The Nuremberg Trials Project: Providing History for All

The GHI benefits tremendously from the help of its many talented interns. The following post was written by GHDI project intern Isabella Auerbach, a student at the University of Pennsylvania, who is majoring in European history. — Editorial note, Href

The Nuremberg Trials Project, an ongoing digitization effort by the Harvard Law School Library (HLSL), is an open-access initiative aimed at transporting the documents relating to the 1945 to 1949 tribunals to an online platform. The project, first conceived in the late 1990s, features a highly organized website that provides ample introductory information regarding the Nuremberg trials, along with the trial documents and transcripts themselves.

A document provided by the Nuremberg Trials Project, containing excerpts to be used in GHDI Volume 7

I was fortunate enough to speak with Paul Deschner, the project manager for the Nuremberg Trials Project and an Application Developer at the library’s Innovation Lab, who was first brought on to the project due to his professional background in software engineering. Deschner discussed both the history and potential future of this undertaking, emphasizing the ongoing significance of these documents, which were produced over seventy years ago.

History of the Documents

Documents relating to the Nuremberg trials were published almost immediately after the conclusion of the International Military Tribunal (IMT), the earliest of the thirteen trials. In 1947, the first of forty-two volumes containing documents, transcripts and judgements was published in Nuremberg under the direction of the IMT. The Trial of the Major War Criminals before the International Military Tribunal, released as the official record of this first trial, served as a crucial step in making this historical and legal occurrence accessible to a wider public.

Moreover, throughout the duration of the following twelve Nuremberg trials, Deschner estimates that close to one hundred copies of documents were compiled for prosecution and defense lawyers, judges and the international press. After the trials concluded in 1949 in Germany, the staff of the tribunals chose to distribute these documents to various archives, primarily in geographically dispersed institutions in North America and Europe, to make them available for researchers.

Not all material sets were fully complete, and various institutions received different portions of the trial documents. Harvard Law School was given a nearly complete version – Deschner believes this may be because a number of graduates from Harvard Law School worked at the trials, and tribunal staff members frequently gave their document sets to their home institutions.

After being shipped to Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1949, the Nuremberg trials documents would spend the following fifty years occupying 700 to 800 archival boxes in the basement of the Harvard Law School Library. Researchers utilized these documents during the second half of the twentieth century, but the way in which the trial materials were organized permitted only scholars with procedural knowledge of the Nuremberg trials to study the case materials.[1]


[1] The Harvard Law School Library trial originally placed trial documents in filing cabinets, organized by trial. A box-level description noted which case was located in each box, and the document books were at times thematically organized. A researcher would typically be told which boxes contained which trials and if the documents were from prosecution or defense, or were source materials. Because only this information was provided for visitors, one would likely require significant knowledge of the documents’ structure in order to search for specific materials.


History of the Project

The Harvard Law School Library’s Nuremberg trials documents had remained in a building basement for nearly fifty years when, in 1998, the Nuremberg Trials Project was conceived. At this time, libraries were first beginning to explore the use of digital technology. The desire to make these documents accessible to a wider public, paired with the deteriorating physical state of these records, drove Harvard Law School to undertake the digitization of the 750,000 pages of the documents they had received five decades prior.

When the pilot project commenced in 1998 — made possible via funds provided by a Harvard Law School graduate — a professional historian was assigned to analyze the documents for Case 1 (the “Medical Trial”) into a database, and a database developer was brought on board to create the database and a prototype of the website to be used to make the documents available to the general public. The project contracted with Harvard’s Digital Imaging Group to provide the digital images of the documents for Case 1.

Since 1998, Harvard Law School has conducted the digitization process in discontinuous stages, in accordance with the ebb and flow of grant funding. The project, Deschner tells me, has had to depend on external funding since its conception in order to process and publish all thirteen trials. This has forced Harvard Law School’s team to work in various stages, whenever funding is made available.

Organization Today

The online database for this project is constructed in an accessible and highly organized manner, allowing viewers less familiar with the Nuremberg trials to comprehend the information offered through this website. The project contains a “Trials” section, comprised of information on both the defendants and the thirteen Nuremberg trial summaries. A “Who was who in Nazi Germany” page lists relevant individuals involved in the Third Reich government, the SS, the NSDAP and the military, providing readers with both official positions and dates for 118 men involved in these trials.

Because the content of each document is often unclear, the Nuremberg Trials Project has created descriptions for each document, containing information such as the individuals and the subjects relating to the corresponding source.

A database provides users with information regarding each document. Every source is accompanied by descriptors such as item number, descriptive and literal title, author, document date, notes, photographs, language, document version, subjects concerned in document and trial citations. Once a document is selected, the user is presented with a digital version of the document and the descriptive information associated with it, including date, author and the trial issues relating to the text (for example, “freezing experiments”).

Today, documents for five out of the thirteen Nuremberg trials have been fully analyzed, digitized and made available on the project website; Harvard Law School has thus made a total of 650,000 pages of primary sources available to the public. These documents consist of trial exhibits, source documents, trial transcripts, opening and closing statements, trial briefs from both prosecution and defense, along with over two hundred photographs from the trials. Through funding provided in 2014, Harvard has now completed the digitization of all trial materials, and is in the process of completing the analysis work for the remaining trials.

Deschner sees the project moving forward and expanding in the future. He hopes that after completing the basic document-description work for all trials – this is estimated to occur sometime within the next year or two – the project team will be in a position to post all thirteen trials and manuscripts online. At this point, Deschner anticipates adding a layer of deeper analysis to each trial and supplementing the basic descriptions with richer metadata. An additional phase would focus on converting all the documents in the collection to machine-readable text, allowing for the addition of full-text search. “I think that this will enormously increase the utility of the website,” Deschner explained to me, “once people can access the documents using their own search terms, and not just the ones that our analysts have decided are appropriate.”

Thus, the project team plans not only to increase the number of trial documents for this project, but is also taking steps to make the Nuremberg Trials Project even more accessible to a wide range of users.

Audience

While originally tailored to researchers, the Nuremberg Trials Project has attracted individuals from diverse areas of professional concerns, along with users interested in these documents for private reasons.

The project website originally contained very little introductory material and described digitized documents in a clipped manner. Once users began sending feedback to the project staff in the 2000s, however, the team realized that many questions had been sent from high school and middle school students interested in various aspects of the trials.
Thus, the website now includes introductory materials to the various elements of the collection and the separate trials that have been published thus far. As a result, the project website has become accessible to users containing varying degrees of knowledge of the Nuremberg trials. Moreover, Deschner explains that the trial transcripts provided by the project’s website serve as crucial context for the documents. “I think originally, the main focus was the documents themselves, because the documents are the places where the Nazi regime can actually be seen planning and carrying through its program,” Deschner explained to me, “but the transcripts are the narrative, the background, of everything that was happening in a given trial… They’re a wonderful kind of contextualizing material or text to have for someone who is looking at the documents.”

Through its introductory information and inclusion of trial transcripts, the project’s website serves as far more than a digital archive for researchers. It has evolved into an educational platform accessible for all audiences, drawn to these documents for different reasons, each with varying degrees of knowledge surrounding these military tribunals.
Therein lies the brilliance of this project. That it truly provides history for all.
Near the end of our conversation, I asked Deschner why he believes that these documents, produced over seventy years ago, are still so relevant and widely used today:

People who are ignorant of history are condemned to repeat it. It’s just something we can’t afford to have happen. And these documents lay out in great detail, from so many different perspectives, how that all happened historically… It’s just making that usable and trying to make it as coherent as possible. That is what we are trying to do. I mean, that is the value of studying history at all, I think.

 

Sources: All documents and screenshots are from the Nuremberg Trials Project website.

Image 1: Extracts from speeches concerning the SS and the conduct of the war, NMT 2, October 4, 1943.

Image 2: Instructions to Security Police and Security Service officers on the assignment of prisoners to concentration camps, January 2, 1941.

Bauhaus Knowledge for Everyone: The Bauhaus Bookshelf

The bauhaus bookshelf is a bilingual (German-English) online resource created by Andrea Riegel, a partner at the Düsseldorf-based communication design agency Riegel+Reichenthaler. Riegel also created Design is fine. History is mine, a popular blog on design and art history. The beautifully designed bauhaus bookshelf, a labor of love launched in 2019, combines access (for personal use) to reproductions of original Bauhaus publications with a timeline, excerpts, photographs, and other contextual information. Libraries, archives, and museums have made most of the reproductions that are gathered on the bookshelf available under Creative Commons Attribution Licenses, and users are advised to download materials from the site for personal use only. While many events and publications in 2019 celebrate the Bauhaus centennial, the bauhaus bookshelf is the only comprehensive online gateway to original Bauhaus publications and sources.

Interview with Andrea Riegel, the virtual bookshelf’s creator and curator

What inspired you to develop the bilingual bauhaus bookshelf?

Some time ago, I began teaching design history as a lecturer alongside my regular career. I had worked for various design companies during my career in communications consulting. However, studying and teaching design history was a new field for me, even though it had been a long-standing passion of mine. As an initial step, I began creating an image database for my students, and decided on using tumblr as an English-language platform in order to reach a larger, international audience. After more than five years and 15,000 posts, the blog Design is fine. History is Mine. now has around 160,000 followers from all over the world.

The Bauhaus as a German institution has always been close to my heart; it fascinated me even as a child. I grew up in Stuttgart and during my school years, our art class made annual visits to the museum where Oscar Schlemmer’s figures from the Triadic Ballet are on exhibit to discuss or draw them. That was my first encounter with the Bauhaus and it left a lasting impression, thanks to good art teachers.

Last year, I began collecting my Bauhaus discoveries on my own website; first there were a few books and interesting publications, then it became more and more of a mission: a collection of sources that can be downloaded free of charge. Bauhaus knowledge for everyone. The anniversary was an additional incentive to launch the project in a timely manner.

How did you proceed with your research? Which publications and sources were you looking for? Did you research only online or also in analog collections?

The original sources from the Bauhaus period formed the basis for the site, complemented by publications by Bauhaus members or affiliates, or other contemporary witnesses. Initially, I relied on online research, as availability on the Internet was a mandatory prerequisite. Once the framework was set and my passion could dive into details, I was able to fall back on my own small Bauhaus library. The catalogue of the 1968 Stuttgart exhibition, for example, was an excellent source, and since I also own a copy of the English-language edition, this proved to be of great help in translating the typical Bauhaus terms. This catalogue, by the way, is not available online, so sometimes you can’t get around the analog versions.

Which discoveries did you particularly enjoy, or which ones particularly surprised you?

A highlight was the first catalogue book on the exhibition in Weimar, whose title page and contents I had seen frequently. Under the umbrella of the SLUB Dresden, I finally found what I was looking for: browsing through and studying the entire work at my own pace for the first time, and the whole thing available in rather good quality, was a wonderful moment – many thanks to Dresden!

Also, the complete edition of the journal “Form,” provided by the University of Heidelberg, is a great way to immerse yourself in the bustling twenties, including the world of advertising.

I am also happy to note that my work resulted in the online publication of the original English-language version of a lecture held by Ise Gropius at Harvard in 1978. I had first discovered the text in a German translation published by the GDR magazine “form und zweck.” With the help of the Harvard archives, I received the original script, which I diligently typed before placing it on my virtual bookshelf. It is certainly worth reading the article by “Frau Bauhaus,” as she was called back then.

One of the focal points of the centennial is on highlighting the history of the women associated with the Bauhaus. What challenges did you notice in the course of your research?

Of course, the theme of the Bauhaus women is a topic close to my heart. In general, it is important to me that I introduce and revive those women in my history lectures who have been “forgotten” for centuries, be it Sappho or Sofonisba Anguissola. As far as the Bauhaus is concerned, Anni Albers, Gunta Stölzl and Marianne Brandt have been among the well-known personalities for quite some time, and there are new publications on Ise Gropius, for example. While studying Bauhaus books and magazines I noticed works by Hilde Hubbuch, Rosa Berger, Hilde Horn or Lotte Burckhardt, but little or no information about these individuals is to be found. Lou Scheper-Berkenkamp and the architect Wera Meyer-Waldeck are known only by small circles and deserve more attention. Initial results of a study about Michiko Yamawaki, who studied (alongside her husband Iwao, an architect) in the weaving workshop at the Bauhaus and later made the “bauhausu” known in Japan, were presented at the beginning of 2019 in the context of the anniversary. To date, not much has been known about Yamawaki in German-speaking countries. But there is widespread interest in learning more about these women, who have remained relatively unknown thus far, and in honoring their work.

Your site is not only a list of links, but also a small online exhibition with short portraits and excerpts from original publications. Which themes did you want to emphasize when conceptualizing your website?

Presenting the diverse spectrum of the Bauhaus was a matter of concern to me, at the same time, the focal points are just as important for orientation purposes. The Bauhaus was a school. Artists taught at the Bauhaus. There were many strong personalities at the Bauhaus (and thus there were conflicts). The Bauhaus was arts and crafts, theory and practice. At the Bauhaus, there were many new developments – not only in architecture or product design, but also in photography, typography, advertising, PR. While the Bauhaus in Dessau was forced to cease operations in 1933, in some ways this was just the beginning. If there is just one takeaway for visitors to my site, then my mission has already achieved a lot.

What were the particular challenges in developing and designing the chronology?

Designing the structure of the website chronologically seemed obvious and sensible, as it provides a helpful thread leading through the entire range of topics. Since I did not proceed strictly according to plan, I always ended up interspersing something thematically that was situated “in between,” which suddenly opened up different contexts – the work certainly was never boring. Visually, in this context, infographics are important to me, and they have been included, for example, on the pages “Bauhaus Chronology” or “Bauhaus Masters.” Who was active at the Bauhaus? How active and for how long? The 1968 exhibition catalog, which was compiled and coordinated by Bauhaus members still alive at the time, provided a perfect model for this infographic.

Which principles inspired your web design?

At the beginning there was no defined concept, the website was created according to the principle “learning by doing,” for fun. The layout was developed in the process; as more and more content was integrated, the appearance emerged in the process of creation. One inspiration for the graphic design was, for example, the photo of a bookshelf that Josef Albers designed in Weimar at the beginning of his Bauhaus period (reproduced in Bauhaus book no. 7/page 18). It was supposed to look just as geometric, balanced, and solid as it does. Even today, one can still learn a thing or two from Moholy-Nagy’s graphic art.

What are the challenges of transferring the historic Bauhaus design into a digital environment?

It is actually easy to design in the Bauhaus style, the modern look still corresponds to our viewing habits, “Less is More” is timeless. What matters is a clear and consistent grid as the basis, a nice and tidy arrangement, no frills. The primary colors serve as accents, or one can choose the combination black-white or black-red. Square and circle as style elements are, of course, a must, whereas I neglected the triangle, just my personal taste.

What do you particularly enjoy about curating the Bauhaus bookshelf?

It’s fun that it’s actually a story that never ends; I don’t feel that the work is “finished” yet. There are so many protagonists, texts, or events that are interesting, my folders on the hard drive are filled with content. I will expand the shelf throughout this year, at least, whenever I get to do the work. The work on this virtual library is a hobby, which is limited to the evening hours, unfortunately. It would be nice if I could earn money with it, being a freelancer, then I’d be able to work on it even more. At the same time, that’s also a lucky advantage: having the independence to work on my library as I please, while certainly serving the cause of sharing the best Bauhaus sources with the public.

Thank you!

Sources: All screenshots are from Andrea Riegel’s bauhaus bookshelf site.

Staatliches Bauhaus Weimar 1919-1923. Published by the Staatliches Bauhaus Weimar and Karl Nierendorf. Weimar-München: Bauhausverlag, 1923. Cover page designed by Herbert Bayer. More information and link to the digital surrogate. 

Translation of the interview by Katharina Hering, assisted by Atiba Pertilla, Kelly McCullough, and DeepL.

Bauhaus Wissen für alle: das virtuelle Bauhaus Bücherregal

Das bauhaus bookshelf ist ein zweisprachiges virtuelles Bücherregal, das von Andrea Riegel konzipiert und umgesetzt wurde. Andrea Riegel, Partnerin beim Düsseldorfer Gestaltungsbüro Riegel und Reichenthaler, betreibt bereits Design is Fine, History is Mine, eine beliebte Plattform zur Design-und Kunstgeschichte. Andrea Riegel hat das bauhaus bookshelf in ihrer Freizeit entwickelt und 2019 Online gestellt. Das sehr schön gestaltete virtuelle Bücheregal verbindet den Zugang zu digitalisierten Originalquellen mit einer Zeitleiste, Auszügen, Fotos und anderen Informationen über den historischen Kontext des Materials. Die meisten der Reproduktionen wurden von  Bibliotheken, Archiven und Museen über Creative Commons Lizenzen (CC-BY-SA-4.0) zur Verfügung gestellt und Nutzer*innen können das Material über die Seite für die private Nutzung herunterladen. Zwar erscheinen zum Bauhausjubiläum in diesem Jahr eine Reihe neuer Publikationen und es finden sehr viele Veranstaltungen statt, aber das bauhaus bookshelf ist die einzige Webseite, die Nutzerinnen einen übersichtlichen Zugang zu Originalquellen und Publikationen eröffnet.

Interview mit Andrea Riegel

Was hat Sie dazu inspiriert, das zweisprachige Bauhaus bookshelf zu entwickeln?

Vor einiger Zeit begann ich – neben meinem eigentlichen Beruf – als Dozentin zu unterrichten, unter anderem Designgeschichte. Zwar hatte ich während meiner Karriere in der Kommunikationsberatung diverse Designunternehmen betreut, aber die Beschäftigung mit der Historie war ein neues Gebiet, wiewohl eine alte Leidenschaft. Eine erste Aktivität bestand darin, eine Bilddatenbank für die Teilnehmer meiner Kurse zusammenzustellen, als Plattform entschied ich mich für tumblr und damit für die englische Sprache, um einen größeren, internationalen Kreis anzusprechen. Nach über fünf Jahren und 15.000 postings folgen dem Blog www.design-is-fine.org inzwischen rund 160.000 Menschen aus aller Welt. 

Das Bauhaus als deutsche Institution lag mir schon immer am Herzen, es hat mich schon als Kind fasziniert. Ich bin in Stuttgart aufgewachsen und während der Schulzeit haben wir im Kunstunterricht jedes Jahr das Museum besucht, in dem die Figuren des Triadischen Balletts von Oskar Schlemmer ausgestellt sind, um sie zu besprechen oder zu zeichnen. Das war meine erste Begegnung mit dem Bauhaus und sie hat – dank guter Kunstlehrerinnen – einen bleibenden Eindruck hinterlassen.

Im vergangenen Jahr begann ich meine bisherigen Bauhaus-Funde auf einer eigenen Webseite zu sammeln, zunächst waren es ein paar Bücher und interessante Publikationen, dann wurde es immer mehr und irgendwann zur Mission: eine Quellensammlung, die den kostenlosen Download ermöglicht. Bauhaus-Wissen für alle. Das Jubiläum war ein zusätzlicher Anreiz, das Projekt auch zeitnah zu realisieren.

Wie sind Sie bei Ihren Recherchen vorgegangen? Nach welchen Publikationen und Quellen haben Sie gesucht? Haben Sie nur Online, oder auch in analogen Sammlungen recherchiert?

Was die Suche betrifft, bildeten die Original-Quellen aus der Bauhauszeit die Grundlage, dazu Publikationen der Bauhäusler oder Beiträge von Zeitzeugen. Die Recherche lief zunächst nur online, da die Verfügbarkeit im Internet eine zwingende Option war. Als das Gerüst stand und die Liebe ins Detail ging, konnte ich auf meine eigene kleine Bauhaus-Bibliothek zurückgreifen. Der Katalog der Stuttgarter Ausstellung von 1968 war z.B. eine ausgezeichnete Quelle und da ich auch die englische Ausgabe besitze, erwies sich das bei der Übersetzung der bauhaus-typischen Begriffe als große Hilfe. Dieser Katalog ist online übrigens nicht verfügbar, manchmal kommt man also an analog nicht vorbei.

Welche Entdeckungen haben Sie bei Ihren Recherchen besonders gefreut oder erstaunt?

Ein Glanzlicht war das erste Katalogbuch zur Ausstellung in Weimar, dessen Titel oder einzelne Seiten ich so oft gesehen hatte. Unter dem Dach der SLUB wurde ich schließlich irgendwann fündig: ein wunderbarer Moment, das ganze Werk zum ersten Mal in Ruhe durchzublättern und zu studieren, das Ganze in einer recht guten Qualität – vielen Dank nach Dresden!

Auch die kompletten Jahrgänge der „Form“, die von der Universität Heidelberg zur Verfügung gestellt werden, sind eine prima Sache, um in die umtriebigen Zwanziger Jahre einzutauchen, inklusive Anzeigenwerbung

Erfreulich ist, dass meine Arbeit dazu geführt hat, dass ein Vortrag, den Ise Gropius 1978 in Harvard hielt, nun auch in der englischen Original-Fassung online zu lesen ist. Zunächst hatte ich den Text in einer deutschen Übersetzung im DDR-Magazin “form und zweck” entdeckt. Mit Hilfe des Harvard Archivs fand sich das Original-Skript, das ich brav abgetippt habe und danach in mein virtuelles Bücherregal stellen konnte. Es ist ein lesenswerter Beitrag von “Frau Bauhaus”, wie sie dort genannt wurde.

Einer der Schwerpunkte des 100jährigen Jubiläums liegt auf der Geschichte der mit dem Bauhaus verbundenen Frauen. Welche Herausforderungen sind Ihnen bei der Recherche aufgefallen?

Natürlich ist das Thema der Bauhausfrauen ein Herzensthema, in meinen Vorträgen ist es mir generell wichtig, jene Frauen aus der Geschichte vorzustellen und damit wiederzubeleben, die über Jahrhunderte “vergessen” wurden, sei es Sappho oder Sofonisba Anguissola. Was das Bauhaus betrifft, zählen Anni Albers, Gunta Stölzl oder Marianne Brandt schon seit geraumer Zeit zu den bekannten Persönlichkeiten, auch zu Ise Gropius gibt es beispielsweise neue Publikationen. Beim Studium der Bauhausbücher und Zeitschriften sind mir Arbeiten von Hilde Hubbuch, Rosa Berger, Hilde Horn oder Lotte Burckhardt aufgefallen, doch es findet sich nur wenig oder keine Information zu diesen Namen. Auch Lou Scheper-Berkenkamp oder die Architektin Wera Meyer-Waldeck sind eher einem kleinen Kreis bekannt und hätten mehr Aufmerksamkeit verdient. Zu Michiko Yamawaki, die (gemeinsam mit ihrem Mann Iwao, ein Architekt) am Bauhaus Weberei studierte und das “bauhausu” später in Japan bekannt machte, wurde Anfang 2019 im Rahmen des Jubiläums erste Ergebnisse einer Studie vorgestellt. Bis dato war über die Textildesignerin im deutschsprachigen Raum nicht viel zu erfahren. Es gibt von vielen Seiten Interesse, über diese noch nicht so bekannten Frauen mehr zu erfahren und ihre Arbeit zu würdigen.

Welche thematischen Schwerpunkte haben Sie bei der Konzeption Ihrer Seite gesetzt, die ja nicht nur eine Liste von Links ist, sondern auch eine kleine Online Ausstellung, mit Kurzporträts und Exzerpten aus Originalpublikationen?

Gerade die Vielfalt des Bauhauses zu präsentieren, war mir ein Anliegen, doch genauso wichtig sind Schwerpunkte zur Orientierung. Das Bauhaus war eine Schule. Am Bauhaus haben Künstler gelehrt. Am Bauhaus gab es viele starke Persönlichkeiten (und dadurch auch Konflikte). Das Bauhaus war Kunst und Handwerk, Theorie und Praxis. Am Bauhaus gab es viele neue Entwicklungen – nicht nur in der Architektur oder im Produktdesign, sondern auch in der Fotografie, Typographie, Werbung, PR. Das Bauhaus war irgendwann zu Ende, doch eigentlich war das erst der Anfang. Wenn nur ein Punkt beim Besuch der Webseite hängenbleibt, dann hat meine Mission schon viel erreicht.

Welche besonderen Herausforderungen gab es bei der Entwicklung und Gestaltung der Chronologie?

Es lag nahe, den Aufbau der Webseite chronologisch zu gestalten, ein hilfreicher roter Faden in der ganzen Themenvielfalt. Doch da ich nicht streng nach Plan vorging, wurde immer wieder etwas thematisch  “dazwischengeschoben”, daraus ergab sich plötzlich einen anderen Kontext – es kam bei der Arbeit jedenfalls keine Langeweile auf. Visuell sind mir in diesem Zusammenhang Infografiken wichtig, umgesetzt z.B. auf den Seiten “Bauhaus Chronik” oder “Bauhaus Meister” – Wer war wie lange am Bauhaus wie aktiv? Dafür hatte ich eine perfekte Vorlage aus dem Ausstellungskatalog von 1968, die noch von den lebenden Bauhäuslern abgestimmt wurde. 

Welche Prinzipien hat Ihr Webdesign inspiriert?

Zu Beginn gab es kein definiertes Konzept, die Webseite entstand nach dem Prinzip “Learning by doing”, aus Spaß an der Sache. Die Seite gewann im Prozess an Ordnung, immer mehr Content floss ein, das Erscheinungsbild entwickelte sich beim Machen. Eine Inspiration für die Grafik war z.B. das Foto eines Bücherregals, das Josef Albers in den Anfängen seiner Bauhauszeit in Weimar umsetzte (zu sehen im Bauhausbuch Nr. 7/ Seite 18). Genauso geometrisch, ausgewogen und solide sollte der Charakter des Auftritts sein. Und von den grafischen Kunst eines Moholy-Nagy kann man sich auch heute noch einiges abschauen.

Welche Herausforderungen gibt es bei der digitalen Übertragung des historischen Bauhausdesigns?

Es ist eigentlich einfach, im Bauhausstil zu gestalten, der Look der Moderne entspricht immer noch unseren Sehgewohnheiten, “Less is more“ ist zeitlos. Wichtig ist ein klares und konsequentes Raster als Grundlage, alles schön geordnet und aufgeräumt, kein Schnickschnack. Die Grundfarben dienen als Akzente oder man wählt die Kombination Schwarz-Weiß oder Schwarz-Rot. Quadrat und Kreis dürfen natürlich nicht fehlen, wobei ich auf das Dreieck verzichtet habe, mein persönlicher Geschmack.

Was macht Ihnen bei der Arbeit am Bauhaus Bookshelf besonderen Spaß?

Spaß macht, dass es eigentlich eine unendliche Geschichte ist – ich habe bis jetzt nicht das Gefühl: “fertig!”. Es gibt noch so viele Personen, Texte, Ereignisse, die von Interesse sind, meine Ordner auf der Festplatte sind gut gefüllt. Das Regal wird zumindest in diesem Jahr erweitert, wann immer ich dazu komme. Die Beschäftigung mit dieser virtuellen Bibliothek ist ein Hobby, das sich auf die Abendstunden beschränkt, leider. Es wäre als Freiberufler schön, wenn sich damit Geld verdienen ließe, dann könnte ich noch mehr daran arbeiten. Aber genau darin liegt auch das große Glück: die Unabhängigkeit, dass ich in meiner Bibliothek schalten und walten kann, wie ich will, was sicher der Sache dient, nämlich die besten Bauhaus Quellen mit der Öffentlichkeit zu teilen.

Besten Dank!

Quellen: Alle Bildschirmaufnahmen sind Andrea Riegel’s bauhaus bookshelf entnommen.

Staatliches Bauhaus Weimar 1919-1923. Veröffentlicht vom Staatliches Bauhaus Weimar and Karl Nierendorf. Weimar-München: Bauhausverlag, 1923. Umschlag entworfen von Herbert Bayer. Weitere Informationen und Link zum Digitalisat.

Happy International Women’s Day!

Today is the perfect occasion to feature the Digitales Deutsches Frauenarchiv (DDF), the digital German women’s archives, as well as Atria, the institute on gender equality and women’s history.

The DDF, launched last year, is a new portal dedicated to making select historical sources documenting the history of women’s movements in (mostly) German-speaking countries available online to broad audiences. The portal features thematic essays that provide context for featured documents, as well as biographical essays on key actors, for example Louise Otto Peters and Clara Zetkin. The portal combines digitized sources from over forty archives, libraries, and other cultural institutions that collect resources documenting the history of women’s and lesbian movements.

The forty-six essays that are currently online focus on specific sources, such as Claudia Schoppmann’s essay about Anna Elisabet Weirauch’s novel trilogy Der Skorpion, or cover broader thematic areas based on a range of sources, such as the influence of the 19th century bourgeois women’s movement on the professionalization of social work.

Continue reading Happy International Women’s Day!

Collaborative Description: Opening Access to the Georgian Papers

Launched by Her Majesty The Queen in 2015, the Georgian Papers Programme (GPP) is an interdisciplinary partnership to conserve, digitise and catalogue 425,000 pages of material held by the Royal Archives and Royal Library relating to the Georgian period, 1714–1837, encompassing the reigns of the five Hanoverian kings (George I, George II, George III, George IV, and William IV). The papers include private, official, and financial material pertaining to the monarchs and their families, papers of various courtiers and ministers, and in addition records which relate to the running of the Georgian royal households. The papers are invaluable in all areas of eighteenth-century study, for they shed light on matters of political, social, economic and military history, as well as international relations and medical knowledge in the Georgian period.

Round Tower, Windsor Castle
Royal Collection Trust/©Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2018
Round Tower, Windsor Castle
Royal Collection Trust /
© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2018

The Georgian Papers Programme is expected to take ten years to complete, with the core cataloguing work taking place within the walls of Windsor Castle, in the Royal Archives and Royal Library. The Programme’s principal partners are the Royal Archives and Royal Collection Trust (RCT), King’s College London (the academic lead), the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture (lead American partner), and the College of William & Mary.[1] The Programme has taken an ambitious approach to developing an integrated workflow that simultaneously supports access, cataloguing and dissemination of digital facsimiles and transcriptions to create a virtuous feedback loop between the expertise of archivists and academics. The Programme has two ultimate ambitions: to optimise public, freely available access supported by enhanced metadata and interpretation; and, to provide a collaborative workspace in which scholars may explore, interrogate and manipulate data using a variety of online tools.

Continue reading Collaborative Description: Opening Access to the Georgian Papers

Interview about German Federal Archives Portal „Weimar: Die erste deutsche Demokratie“ [Weimar: The First German Democracy]


The German Bundesarchiv (Federal Archives of Germany) launched the portal „Weimar: Die erste deutsche Demokratie“ [Weimar: The First German Democracy] in March 2018. The portal offers access to thousands of digitized records, maps, photographs, films, audio recordings, and posters from the Weimar Republic, with new materials being added on an ongoing basis. Href interviewed Vera Zahnhausen* about the portal, which is one of the major recent digital initiatives of the Bundesarchiv. –Editorial note, href.

What sparked the development of „Weimar: die erste deutsche Demokratie”?

We realized that the upcoming centennial of the November Revolution of 1918 and subsequent centennial anniversaries commemorating the Weimar Republic would draw considerable public attention to this period in German history.

The Bundesarchiv (German Federal Archives), as “custodian” of significant and unique historical sources documenting that period, wanted to seize this opportunity and direct the attendant public attention toward the “treasures” that are housed in the archives. At the same time, we hope that the project will enhance the overall public perception of the Bundesarchiv as one of the most important institutions for preserving history and cultural memory in the Federal Republic. We also hope that making digitized sources available on the internet will lead to greater collaboration with universities and research projects. We have already started forging stronger ties with other archives and projects, for example with the Verein Weimarer Republik (https://www.weimarer-republik.net/5-0-Verein.html) in the city of Weimar. Finally, and not least, the Bundesarchiv hopes that the new Weimar Republic portal will attract new users, while strengthening the bonds with existing users.

Continue reading Interview about German Federal Archives Portal „Weimar: Die erste deutsche Demokratie“ [Weimar: The First German Democracy]

The “Historiography in Ottoman Europe (1500-1800)” Project (HOE) – Providing More through Metadata

Background and Genesis

Though the Ottoman empire controlled a significant portion of the Balkan region in the early modern era, the historiographical traditions established by historical texts created in the region during that period has received comparatively little attention as a research topic.[1] To fill this gap in research and to make the resulting data publicly available, the Historiography in Ottoman Europe project was developed with the support of the German Research Foundation (DFG) to create a database that would include metadata for several hundred primary sources from the years 1500 to 1800 and over 3,600 secondary works on the history of Ottoman Europe. The project’s funding is coming to an end this year, but the site will remain active and invites feedback, partnerships and additional submissions of relevant data.[2]

Historiography of Ottoman Europe project logo
project logo by André Hagenbruch (†)

The project is a collaboration between the office of the Chair for the History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey (Lehrstuhl für Geschichte des Osmanischen Reiches und der Türkei, ORT) of Ruhr University Bochum and Bochum University Library. Both institutions brought their specific expertise to the project and worked in synergy to create fresh research data and conceptualize a customized, optimized way of presenting these findings for added utility. The team members from the ORT office conducted research in libraries and archives worldwide to locate, examine and describe neglected sources and to compile relevant secondary material on these documents. Team members from the library oversaw the project’s web presence and entered data collected by the research team members into the jointly conceptualized system. They validated the information and complemented it with links, filters and further metadata to create the specific data sets that characterize the HOE corpus.

Currently, the collection contains metadata inputted for more than 4000 primary sources and related secondary literature in over 20 languages. The material encompasses a wide range of genres, from primary sources in the form of manuscripts, codices, and maps to secondary literature that includes monographs, edited volumes, journal articles, chapters, translations, editions, and websites. For each item, basic bibliographical information such as persons involved, title(s), length, date, and place of publication are provided. Depending on the source type, additional metadata has been included, such as geodata specifying the institutions holding manuscripts, links to DB-Pedia for keywords, different bibliographical identifiers for works (ISBN/ISSN, HBZ, ZDB etc.), links to person-identifier databases (VIAF, ISNI, GND/DNB), related websites, remarks on and descriptions of the sources, and more.

The project succeeded in negotiating the rights to include images of certain digitized materials (including scans of maps and PDFs of library manuscript catalogues) in related entries.[4] These files add considerable value to the collection, as some of them are not currently accessible anywhere else. A stemma depicting relationships between manuscripts created from research carried out by the team is a new and unique contribution. Providing access to digitized materials hosted on its own servers, however, is not the prime objective of the HOE project.

Where and How to Search?

The website is structured into three main components:

  1. The start page with a counter of materials included, a heat map indicating the geographical distribution of manuscripts treated, and general guidelines.
  2. The “Main Section”, containing all those primary and related secondary sources that were considered to be of vital importance to the project.
  3. The “Tools Section”, which contains material that surfaced over the course of the project and was considered useful to those studying the historiography of Ottoman Europe beyond the focus of the HOE project.

The “Main Section” and “Tools Section” offer a range of search facets. Some mirror basic bibliographical parameters researched for each source by the library (persons involved, dates of publication, publication type, languages used in a source, etc.). Others are based on analytical parameters defined by the members of the ORT research group (analyses of the contents and significance of the manuscripts included, keywords associated with primary sources, primary publication year, genre etc.). These facets can be used to filter the entire corpus according to the criteria described by the facets.

HOE database entry for a world map by Gheorghe Golescu (1768-1848)

Additionally, searches may be entered via the search bar that allows users to search the Tools Section and the Main Section individually. Search results can be refined by activating facet filters. The title, translated title, transcribed title, name of the author or entry ID of a work have been included in the index[5], making them valid search parameters for queries submitted via the search bar.

The facets also mirror the different levels of hierarchical and analytical distinctions used to structure the corpus both from a library-related perspective and according to research-related aspects. These concepts have shaped the structure and functionalities of the system but cannot be addressed in detail here. They will be described in future publications.

What Are the Benefits?

The functionalities included on the entry level are designed for one particular purpose: to draw attention to and offer quick access to (meta)data that not only helps to identify and locate sources, but also adds to the understanding of the source itself. These interconnections are established on two levels: within the system and beyond it.  

Links within the website allow users to navigate the hierarchical part-whole relationships that are commonly indicated in library catalogues. Beyond this common functionality, the system offers two kinds of internal links that transcend standard catalogues: first, internal links that mirror aspects of textual history and migration/development by including an “other version” category for indicating editions, reprints and translations. Secondly, the system has been built to allow for associative linking of entries. Materials can be cross-referenced with each other freely with the relationship between them defined as “primary source,” “secondary source,” “reference,” or “other,” guiding the user to further reading and context. Internal links are also established between the Tools Section and the Main Section, allowing visitors to explore wider contexts of research.    

HOE database entry for “The history of the growth and decay of the Othman empire,” by Dimitrie Cantemir

One major class of links to resources outside the system are those to the previously mentioned person-identifier databases. Catalog records for individuals provide users overviews of all the works they have written included in the database, expanding the circles of possible background reading and the understanding of the overall oeuvre of specific authors. The second major class of hyperlinks are those to other online resources, mostly open-access materials, such as digitized manuscript folios and journal articles, as well as other useful related materials found in the course of project research. These links allow users to access useful additional material or even the sources themselves at a click.      

This combination of internal and external links offers users options for fresh approaches to the sources by highlighting options to expand their perception of and background on the materials in question and on their historical and prosopographical context. Additionally, the filters mentioned can be used to define new approaches towards and questions to be addressed using this metadata collection. The HOE database is consequently a detailed and comprehensive research tool that both saves researchers time and effort when looking for literature and provides them food for thought.    

Stemma by Sonja Rosenberger of source/manuscript relationships for “The history of the growth and decay of the Othman empire,” by Dimitrie Cantemir (HOE database)

On a more general note, and with regard to the increasing importance of research data management in university libraries and departments, the HOE system may also be relevant for a wide range of other projects. Bibliographical (meta)data is an essential starting point of almost any research project. The amount of bibliographical data accumulated over the course of a project may vary between projects and disciplines, but gathering, complementing and interlinking data sets when the opportunity presents itself could result in specific bibliographies that may prove to be useful auxiliary elements to the websites and reports of projects, as well as useful, state-of-the-art tools for university teachers and students. This is even more true for the increasing number of Digital Humanities projects and digitalization initiatives, which could use similar systems to supplement their catalogues of digitized materials with extensive bibliographical metadata on related publications and relevant digitized resources from the growing range of online materials.

The system developed at Bochum for the “Historiography of Ottoman Europe” project can therefore serve as a possible role model for one way of interlinking traditional elements of library catalogues, identification databases and digitized materials on specific topics that are found web-wide.

Vivian Strotmann studied Middle Eastern Studies/Islamic Studies and English at Ruhr University Bochum and at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth (Co. Kildare). She conducted research in Egypt and Yemen and wrote her Ph.D. thesis on Majd al-Din al-Firuzabadi. Her research focuses on the history of sciences (with a particular interest in Arabic lexicography and Islamic philosophy), on networks and on the migration of knowledge between countries and cultures. She also takes a special interest in open access publishing and digital humanities.

She has taught in and outside of university and worked as a translator. For several years, she served as Editorial Assistant to The World of Islam/International Journal for the Study of Modern Islam. From June 2014 to November 2016, she worked as Managing Editor of Entangled Religions – Interdisciplinary Journal for the Study of Religious Contact and Transfer at the Käte Hamburger Kolleg “Dynamics in the History of Religions between Asia and Europe“.

In December 2016, she joined the University Library of Ruhr University Bochum as a metadata expert for the DFG-funded project “Historiography of Ottoman Europe” and became Managing Editor of Moving the Social – Journal of Social History and the History of Social Movements at the Institute for Social Movements, Bochum.

ORCID-ID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6009-5182

GND-ID: http://d-nb.info/gnd/1015589669

ISNI-ID: 0000 0004 5210 6333

VIAF-ID: 317097433


[1] See Ovidiu Olar’s definition of “Ottoman Europe” at http://www.ub.rub.de/oh/concepts.html as well as Das osmanische Europa. Methoden und Perspektiven der Frühneuzeitforschung zu Südosteuropa, ed. Andreas Helmedach, Markus Koller, Konrad Petrovszky, and Stefan Rohdewald (Leipzig: Eudora, 2013) and Konrad Petrovszky, Geschichte schreiben im osmanischen Südosteuropa. Eine Kulturgeschichte orthodoxer Historiographie des 16. und 17. Jahrhunderts (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2014).

For different views on the appropriate dating of the “early modern” (“Neuzeit”) period see Friedrich Jaeger, “Neuzeit,” in: Enzyklopädie der Neuzeit Online (J.B. Metzlersche Verlagsbuchhandlung und Carl Ernst Poeschel Verlag GmbH 2005–2012. Consulted online on 17 September 2018 http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/2352-0248_edn_a2985000. First published online: 2014. By selecting the timeframe of 1500 to 1800, the project accounts for important historical developments and encompasses both the heyday of Ottoman hegemony and the beginning of the empire’s decline. See on this: Stefan Reichmuth/Henning Sievert, “Osmanisches Reich,” in: Enzyklopädie der Neuzeit Online. Consulted online on 17 September 2018 http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/2352-0248_edn_a3101000. First published online: 2014.

[2] Feel free to use our flyer to spread the word (http://www.ub.rub.de/imperia/md/content/oh/flyer_osmanen_dh_day.pdf) or contact us at ottomanhistoriography@rub.de. You can also use our guest sign-in to submit data. This will require you to create an ORCID-ID beforehand, if you do not already have one.

[3] A brief German-language page describing the project is available at http://www.ub.ruhr-uni-bochum.de/projekte/osmanisches_reich.html. More extensive information in English is available from our info page at http://www.ub.rub.de/oh/index.html.

[4] We thank our supporting institutions for these materials (see bottom section at http://www.ub.rub.de/oh/partners.html).

[5] A Github entry of the 2016 status quo was created by our late head of development, André Hagenbruch, and is available at https://github.com/ubbochum/hoe.

Announcement: Crossing the Atlantic/Bridging the Divide

As part of the Year of German-American Friendship 2018/19 (Deutschlandjahr USA), the German Historical Institute Washington (GHI) is cooperating with the Deutsches Auswandererhaus, Bremerhaven, on a joint project entitled Crossing the Atlantic/Bridging the Divide. Co-sponsored initiatives include a digital exhibition of maps of Germany and America; workshops on German-American family history in three U.S. cities; and the launch of an English-language online portal for documenting German-American family history. These planned initiatives align with the primary themes of Deutschlandjahr, which include German heritage and German language, and digitization and innovation.

Last month, the GHI began work on its core contribution to the joint project: an online exhibition provisionally entitled Mapping Germany and America. The exhibition is being developed in partnership with Vanderbilt University’s Center for Digital Humanities, which is led by Prof. Helmut Walser Smith. Beginning with Martin Waldseemüller’s world map of 1507, the exhibition will feature approximately sixty maps: thirty maps of America by Germans and thirty maps of Germany by Americans. Exhibition curator Dr. Martin Mulford is currently at work on a selection of historical maps that will show how cartographers portrayed Germany and America over the course of a centuries-long relationship characterized by engagement, partnership, intermittent periods of conflict, knowledge transfer, and dialogue.

History teachers Stacey King (M.A.) and Dr. Katharina Matro, both of the Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart, will develop teaching materials to accompany the exhibition. Among other objectives, these materials will encourage students to think more critically about maps as historical sources. By devoting equal attention to German and American maps, the exhibition and the teaching materials will differ from most U.S.-based online map projects, which generally focus on maps of America. Additionally, the exhibition aims to forge a middle ground between American map projects that are informed by a public history tradition and German projects that are shaped by research questions.

Universalis cosmographia secundum Ptholomaei traditionem et Americi Vespucii alioru[m]que lustrationes (the 1507 Waldseemuller map).

Universalis cosmographia secundum Ptholomaei traditionem et Americi Vespucii alioru[m]que lustrationes, the 1507 Waldseemüller map. Library of Congress Geography and Map Division

For its contribution, the Deutsches Auswandererhaus will host a series of workshops entitled German-American Roots: Share Your Family Story in three U.S. cities: Baltimore, Cincinnati, and Washington, DC. The target audience in each case is local German-Americans, who will be invited to tell their own immigration stories or share family narratives. The interviews will be recorded and will eventually become part of the museum’s oral history collection. Furthermore, in early 2019, the Auswandererhaus will launch a new English-language online portal, whereby any German-American immigrant, regardless of location, will be able to document his or her own personal or family history.

The GHI exhibition will be launched in spring 2019 – please check back!

Mapping Black Central Europe: Digital History in the Classroom

The GHI benefits tremendously from the help of its many talented interns. The following post was written by GHDI project intern Milena Kagel, who first learned of this website at the Defining Black European History conference at the GHI in June 2018.  — Editorial note, Href

By Milena Kagel 

Every spring, Kira Thurman teaches an undergraduate course on “Germany and the Black Diaspora” at the University of Michigan. Since 2016, this course has included a digital history component – Thurman and her students have worked to construct a visual representation of the history of Black people in Central Europe by recording figures, objects, and events related to that history. Each student is required to contribute five entries to an online mapping project entitled Mapping Black Central Europe.

The map currently features around two hundred pins, each of which is connected to a detailed profile on a person, object, or event. The pins are geographically widespread, with the greatest concentration appearing in Germany. As a whole, the map creates a powerful visual representation of the significance of Blackness and Black people as historical players in Central Europe. Professor Thurman plans to expand Mapping Black Central Europe by continuing to plot new pins each year with her students.

Map from Mapping Black Central Europe

Continue reading Mapping Black Central Europe: Digital History in the Classroom

Halle Pastors, German Settlers, and Lutheran Congregations in North America

One of the contributors to our new German History Intersections project brought our attention to this important project, which touches upon many areas of current research at the GHI, including the histories of migration, knowledge, and religion. We thank our colleagues in Halle for this article. — Editorial note, Href

By Wolfgang Splitter

The Francke Foundations in Halle are currently at work on a DFG-funded project entitled Halle Pastors in Pennsylvania, 1743–1825. A Critical Edition of Sources Relating to Their Ministry in North America. The editors are Mark Häberlein, Thomas Müller-Bahlke and Hermann Wellenreuther.

Whereas research on the history of the Lutheran Church in North America up to the early nineteenth century has concentrated so far on the journals and correspondence of Heinrich Melchior Mühlenberg (1711-1787), this project will transcribe and edit the extant curricula vitae, journals, and correspondence of Mühlenberg’s pastoral colleagues – i.e. those Lutheran pastors who were sent from the Francke Foundations in Halle, Prussia, to Pennsylvania between 1744 and 1786. Among other sources, the project will feature letters and reports from the New World sent by these pastors to the directors of the Francke Foundations in Halle and to the Lutheran Court Preacher in London. By moving away from a singular focus on Mühlenberg and considering a larger circle of pastors, this project will substantially expand the base of published documentary materials relating to the Halle pastors’ North American ministry and thereby lay the groundwork for new insights into the history of Pietism in the Atlantic world. The materials shed light on the spread and development of Lutheran congregations in North America, the significance of those congregations to German-speaking immigrants, and the place of the Lutheran Church within the multi-confessional mid-Atlantic region (Pennsylvania and its neighboring colonies or states). They also show how German Protestants in the Old and New Worlds perceived each other. Continue reading Halle Pastors, German Settlers, and Lutheran Congregations in North America

Economic Texts and Letters – Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels Go Online

The idea for this article emerged in the course of the April 2018 symposium Marx at 200, which the GHI hosted in collaboration with the Friedrich- Ebert Stiftung and the Goethe Institute Washington, DC. Dr. Jürgen Herres, a research fellow at the BBAW, was one of the panelists, and introduced us to MEGAdigital and to Dr. Roth. Professor Jürgen Kocka’s Keynote address on Marx and the History of Capitalism will be published in the GHI Bulletin in the fall of 2018 — Editorial note, Href

By Regina Roth

The Marx-Engels-Gesamtausgabe (MEGA, for short) is a project whose goal is to publish the complete legacy of Karl Marx (1818–1883) and Friedrich Engels (1820–1895) through producing a complete critical edition of their publications, manuscripts and correspondence.

The Editor is the Internationale Marx-Engels-Stiftung (IMES), an international, politically independent network, with the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities (BBAW) in charge, together with the International Institute of Social History (IISG, Amsterdam), the Russian State Archive of Socio-Political History (RGASPI, Moscow), and the Friedrich-Ebert Stiftung (Bonn) as members. The Marx-Engels papers are preserved in the archives of the IISG in Amsterdam (roughly two thirds) and at the RGASPI in Moscow (about one third). IMES was founded in 1990 to continue work on MEGA which had begun in the 1970s in Moscow and Berlin, GDR.

Continue reading Economic Texts and Letters – Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels Go Online

A Call to Action on Digital Cultural Heritage in Germany

The GHI Washington is part of the Max Weber Foundation — German Humanities Institutes Abroad, which includes ten research institutes worldwide. Innovation in digital research, scholarship, and preservation is a central concern of the Foundation and many of its constituent institutes. This post was authored by two Max Weber Foundation colleagues: Fabian Cremer from the administrative office in Bonn and Thorsten Wübbena from the German Center for Art History in Paris (DFK Paris). — Editorial note, Href

By Fabian Cremer and Thorsten Wübbena

Mass digitization of cultural heritage objects is an urgent need: In Germany, this is the common ground on which stakeholders from multiple fields have formulated a “wake-up” call to political decision-makers. Whether perceived as the last chance for the preservation of soon-to-be-lost culture, as in Syria (e.g. the Syrian Heritage Archive Project),[1] or as an opportunity for education and inspiration through free access to museum objects (e.g. Europeana), digitization enables people to see and use cultural material beyond its physical limitations. Continue reading A Call to Action on Digital Cultural Heritage in Germany

From Source to Document: “Key Documents of German-Jewish History”

Many German projects are making new text corpora available in digital form, complete with transcriptions, facsimiles, and English translations. Much can be learned from the work of our colleagues, in this case historians from the Hamburg-based Institute for the History of German Jews.  — Editorial note, Href

By Daniel Burckhardt and Anna Menny

The bilingual (German/English) online source edition “Key Documents of German-Jewish History” (http://jewish-history-online.net/), which is published by the Institute for the History of German Jews (IGdJ) in Hamburg (http://www.igdj-hh.de/IGDJ-home.html), uses primary sources, so-called key documents, to highlight central aspects of Hamburg’s rich and multifaceted Jewish past from the early modern period to the present. The project currently includes seventy-five sources with new materials being added on a regular basis. The project focuses on Hamburg but is outward- rather than inward-looking. Put differently, the project uses the city as a case study to examine topics and trends whose significance is not just local but also national, transnational, and even global. Generally speaking, the “key” sources featured in the project are meant to “open doors” to understanding larger developments and issues in (German-) Jewish history.

The target audience for this source edition is students, researchers, and teachers, as well as the interested public. In keeping with the broad nature of the audience, the edition includes a wide range of secondary-source texts and commentaries: general texts, for example, offer background information on important topics, such as “Memory and Remembrance” or “Family and Everyday Life,” whereas source-based interpretative texts develop argumentation on the basis of close textual analysis. Continue reading From Source to Document: “Key Documents of German-Jewish History”

Goebbels’ “Total War” Speech – Which Is the Primary Source?

GHI interns contribute to the Institute’s digital projects in a variety of capacities: as researchers, proofreaders, fact-checkers, and bibliographers. In the course of their work, they often arrive at interesting insights. — Editorial note, Href

By Martin Hamre

The digital revolution has, without doubt, changed the way that young people research history. Previously, students pored over books and printed encyclopedias; today, with Google, Wikipedia, and YouTube, access to a broad range of historical source materials – including multimedia files – is only a mouse click away. On the one hand, this makes it easier for students to research topics that would have been difficult to investigate only twenty years ago; on the other hand, it also raises completely new questions. Continue reading Goebbels’ “Total War” Speech – Which Is the Primary Source?

Read All About It (Online)! Accessing Digitized Historical German Newspapers

With thanks to our GHI librarian, Anna Maria Boss. — Editorial note, Href

Articles from historical newspapers typically play an important role in primary-source document collections in both printed and digital form. GHDI is no exception: it presently includes hundreds of texts from German newspapers dating from the early nineteenth to the twenty-first centuries. During the course of the relaunch, scores of new German newspaper articles will be added to this existing base. Likewise, newspaper articles will feature prominently in the German History Intersections project.

Central Institute for Journalism and Journalistic Studies at the University of Leipzig (Das Zentrale Institut für Publizistik und Zeitungswissenschaft der Universität Leipzig). Source: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-10739-0008.

Many German research libraries have recently completed ambitious newspaper digitization projects, often with the support of the German Research Council (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft or DFG). These projects offer new access to German historical newspapers and thus make it possible for students, scholars, and researchers from all over the world to work with these sources firsthand. Continue reading Read All About It (Online)! Accessing Digitized Historical German Newspapers