Project Director Karel Berkhoff on What to Expect From EHRI-3

Karel Berkhoff at EHRI Conference Amsterdam
Tuesday, 6 October, 2020

On Wednesday 16 September, nearly 70 representatives from 25 institutions in Europe, Israel and the United States convened to kick off EHRI-3, the third phase of the EHRI project. For the first time since EHRI’s beginnings in 2010, this launch was entirely online. In the year of the start of this third phase, EHRI is already entering its eleventh year of existence. The ambitious venture is embarking on an upgrade that will transform it from a time-limited project into a permanent, independent organization, that will help secure the future of trans-national Holocaust research, commemoration and education. Since December 2019, EHRI has been doing the legal, financial and strategic work involved, in a so-called preparatory phase (EHRI-PP).

Until this most recent kick-off, EHRI continued its services, such the EHRI Portal facilitating access to Holocaust-related sources, the Document Blog and the Online Course, all for a steadily growing user community. But now, with the start of EHRI-3, funded through the EU Horizon2020 Programme, EHRI can considerably expand its services and will restart its fellowship and training programme. The EHRI-3 project will run from 2020-2024 and deepen the integration of Holocaust  archives and research.

This project will lead to a substantial increase in the coverage of the EHRI Portal, particularly with regards to micro-archives held by small institutions, grass-root initiatives and independent individuals. EHRI-3 will develop new digital tools to connect dispersed sources. Despite the difficulties posed by COVID-19, EHRI will deliver new state-of-the-art training and education opportunities for researchers and archivists. And before the end of 2020, we hope to announce the first call for a new round of Conny Kristel fellowships, tailored to giving access to the resources of the world's twenty leading Holocaust archives. Coronavirus regulations permitting, we will start this year with the organization of our new training programme, including a series of seminars and workshops, the interactive online course and a massive open online course (MOOC). The EHRI community is very committed and entrepreneurial, and is in it for the long run. The past few months under the coronavirus have taught us that we will continue to find new ways of collaborating and teaching.

Until 2018, the EHRI project and consortium was led by Dr. Conny Kristel, a senior researcher at the NIOD Institute of War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies in Amsterdam; sadly, she passed away that year.

Reto Speck during the Zoom meetings

Now, with a consortium and budget that both have grown, and with not one but two missions (EHRI-PP and EHRI-3), EHRI also has two project directors. Dr. Reto Speck, based at NIOD and King’s College London, oversees the preparatory phase. I was the last director of EHRI-2, and will lead with my colleagues EHRI-3, alongside my continued work in NIOD’s Research Department. EHRI’s working processes will be optimally integrated, also with a view to supporting EHRI’s long-term sustainability.

I continue to be inspired by the breadth of our project and its participants, and look forward to meeting many of the EHRI community, be virtually or in the more familiar way.

Image: Karel Berkhoff at the EHRI Conference Holocaust Studies in Its Social Settting in Amsterdam, 3 July 2020. Photo by Mark Nauwen.