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New Europe-Wide Project to Connect Archives to be Launched Next Week

Yad Vashem takes leading role in 4 year project; Education Minister Gideon Saar and Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev to Represent Israel at Brussels Event

9 November 2010

An European-wide archives and research project about the Holocaust that will allow easier access to dispersed and unconnected Holocaust documents will be launched in Brussels next week.

The European Holocaust Research Infrastructure (EHRI) is to date the most important European research project about Holocaust documentation.

EHRI will be launched in Brussels on November 16, 2010, at a special event under the patronage of European Council President Herman Van Rompuy. Israeli Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar, European Commissioner for Research Innovation and Science Maire Geoghegan-Quinn, the State Secretary of Education, Culture, and Science of the Netherlands Halbe Zijlstra, Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev and Director the Yad Vashem Archives Dr. Haim Gertner will participate in the event.

“The establishment of EHRI is especially important as different historical narratives are competing in Europe,” said Avner Shalev, Chairman of Yad Vashem. “Through EHRI Europe is stating its understanding that the Holocaust has unique standing in the joint European historical narrative.”

With 20 partner organizations, from 13 European countries including Israel, the 4-year, 7 million euro project, is a part of the EU’s research program FP7, in which Israel is a partner.

“The nature of the events of the Holocaust, and the chaotic state of Europe in the immediate post-war, coupled with the Nazis’ effort to destroy not only the Jewish people, but all memory of them, has meant that information about the Holocaust is spread all over the world,” said Shalev. “In order to be able to begin to piece together what happened, information that is located in numerous archives throughout Europe must be connected. EHRI will facilitate research into the Holocaust, and help us further piece together what happened, when and to whom.”

Lead by the Dutch organization NIOD (The Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies in Amsterdam), EHRI is a project of the European Union that will be a source of information for researchers and educators around the world. Yad Vashem has been active in this project since its inception, and is playing a leading role in the various sub-projects that make up EHRI. Working projects will focus on creating a shared thesaurus of 5,000 keywords to allow unified searches across collections that contain millions of documents in numerous languages, encouraging research by creating a network among experts in various Holocaust-related fields through forums to explore cooperation in names recovery, Holocaust art, identifying photos from the Holocaust period and more. Other aspects of the project will deal with information technologies, access and scholarships for researchers to study at Yad Vashem and at other archives.