On the upcoming 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp, which coincides with International Holocaust Memorial Day, the Arolsen Archives are launching a crowdsourcing project titled “Every name counts” that will begin with a special day of action for schools in the Hesse region of Germany.

We have an ambitious goal: to ensure that all the names contained in the documents held in the Arolsen Archives can be found in our online archive and to achieve this aim as soon as possible. We are working hard on this ourselves as well as cooperating with a number of partners and applying new technologies in order to reach this goal. And we are kicking things off with a crowdsourcing project titled “Every Name Counts”, which enables anyone who is interested to help us index the information contained in the documents and get to know how meaningful this work is. A name on a list is often the last trace left of a person before they were murdered by the National Socialists. This is what makes it so very important for family members in particular to be able to find these names easily from wherever they are all over the world.

On 27 January 2020, the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp and International Holocaust Memorial Day, we will be launching this project together with hundreds of school pupils from all over the Hesse region of Germany. This special day of action will be held under the patronage of Hesse’s Minister of Digital Strategy and Development, Kristina Sinemus.

»My father never talked about the relatives he lost. So recovering even a name on a list is very important for us. These files add much more information. I am so appreciative of the efforts made in uploading this data.«

Feedback from one of the users of the online archive

The challenge

Unlike the documents in our holdings that relate to specific individuals, the deportation and transport lists could not be searched online for specific names up until now. Instead, they were only searchable in the local database of the Arolsen Archives using a relatively complicated system. In order for them to be found in the online archive, the information the documents contain needs to be typed out and linked to the digital copies. The schools which are taking part in the project will do this on an easy-to-use online platform which will be made available to them for the purpose.

The documents

To mark the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the students will be given access to lists of people who were sent away from the Auschwitz concentration camp and transported to other camps on the territory of the German Reich, where they were obliged to do forced labor. We re-scanned the original lists only very recently. Hardly any work has been done on processing them as yet. We are also making the deportation lists from Kassel, Wiesbaden, Frankfurt and Darmstadt available to the schools involved.

On August 13, 1944, a thousand Jewish women and girls from Hungary, Slovakia and Slovenia were taken from the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp to Münchmühle in Allendorf (now Stadtallendorf). They were forced to work for a subsidiary of Dynamit Nobel where they were given the job of pouring highly toxic TNT into ammunition cases. Their names will be indexed on 27 January too.

Who can be part of the project?

About 20 schools are taking part in the project so far. Other educational institutions are very welcome to join in. The project is suitable for small project groups or for entire year groups of pupils in years eleven and twelve. A minimum of two lessons must be made available. The pupils can work in pairs on one PC. Entering the names requires a high level of concentration. This is why it can only be done over a relatively short period of time. In order to implement the project in a meaningful way, pupils will need to be given some orientation. We will provide the schools with appropriate educational materials for preparation and follow-up.

Are you interested in taking part in this project with your students? If so, please send an e-mail to christa.seidenstuecker@arolsen-archives.org

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