One of the big things I’ve discovered from this year has been Zooniverse – an online platform for research projects requiring volunteers. I have done a few new things through there already including transcribing anti-slavery letters, tracking penguin numbers, and helping NASA classify pictures of Mars for their Mars Rover – a diverse and interesting mix! It gives me a chance to volunteer my time to contribute to projects I wouldn’t be able to otherwise, like today’s new thing, helping to create a searchable database of victims and survivors of National Socialism (the Nazi party) for the Every Name Counts project. The project comes from the Arolson Archives and involves compiling specific data from concentration camp and imprisonment documents so that victim’s families can easily find information.
This was not a light one to undertake. Having lived in Germany for many years and being exposed to different monuments and memorials, I’ve become much more aware of the horrors of its history. On my walking tour of Frankfurt, we walked by the Jewish Cemetery which has small memorial stones along it’s surrounding walls with hundreds and hundreds of names on. Seeing it all laid out, and realising each stone represents a person is incredibly sobering, especially when that is just a small selection of the 12,000 Frankfurt victims.
Another interesting Holocaust memorial that is in the same vein as the Every Name Counts project is the Stolpersteine (Stumbling Stones). There are currently around 70,000 in a number of European cities on the pavement in front of buildings. They act as a memorial for the individuals who lived in the building before they were deported to concentration camps, and in my opinion are an incredibly effective and emotional tribute when you come across them.
This all goes to say that I think this project is an incredibly important one. The process was very simple, as with other Zooniverse projects, and involved transcribing specific information from a concentration camp document, such as religion, the reason for arrest, and last address.
This was absolutely a tough project to do, especially as you begin to transcribe some of the reasons for arrest, but it’s something I’m glad that I could help contribute to and something I’ll continue to help with. Each transcription takes a matter of minutes and it’s very easy to go through a few in a short amount of time. An interesting and valuable new thing.