Arolsen Archives Online
The Arolsen Archives are an international centre for the study of Nazi persecution which houses the world’s most comprehensive archive on the victims and survivors of Nazism. Its collections are listed on the UNESCO Memory of the World Register and they are a unique body of evidence on the fate of over 17.5 million people. This portal has provided users with easy online access to the documents for the very first time. A digital aid, the e-Guide, gives users the information they need in order to understand the archival records. The new online archive was initiated and funded by the Arolsen Archives and implemented with support from Yad Vashem – The World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Israel.
Building on decades spent digitising the Arolsen Archives’ collections and indexing the names, this joint awareness-raising project utilises Yad Vashem’s state-of-the-art technology for fast data management and extended place and name search. At its launch in May 2019, users could already access 13 million documents online and search some 3 million names. The online archive is growing all the time.
Because of the complex and heterogeneous nature of the collections, conventional research previously required a great deal of experience and expertise and, therefore, a lot of assistance from the archive’s staff. By publishing the documents online on an innovative and easy-to-use platform with interactive components and advanced contextualizing tools, such as the e-Guide, the Arolsen Archives has opened the archives to a new community of users, enabling people from around the world to research specific topics as well as individual biographies. Family members can easily research the fate of their relatives, while researchers can study the various different groups and categories of people who were persecuted.
The interactive archive allows users to add comments to discussions and contribute their knowledge to augment the archival information. The online archive also harnesses the resources of the entire community to correct mistakes and fill in the gaps in the Arolsen Archives’ documentation.
“The internationally recognised Arolsen Archives are of immense importance. The wealth of documentation adds to the global knowledge of the victims and survivors of Nazi persecution and makes the crimes transparent. The success of this awareness-raising project is in digitising around 30 million documents and providing open access. Collaborative work with other institutions around the world has further enriched their database. The metadata vocabulary allows users to easily search through this immense amount of information and the dialogue interface enables interaction between users”, the Jury stated. “The archive has recorded an impressive number of users of the portal and has included parallel activities in education and awareness-raising”, the Jury noted.