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Voices of the Victims at the Site of the Perpetrators

Cooperation Agreement between Freie Universität Berlin and Topography of Terror Documentation Center

№ 265/2011 from Aug 23, 2011

Freie Universität and the Topography of Terror Foundation have signed a cooperation agreement. The aim of the agreement is the development and use of a common educational program that will provide additional information about the perpetrators from the perspectives of the victims. The new project "Voices of the Victims at the Site of the Perpetrators" will focus on individual life stories based on digital interviews with witnesses. The agreement was signed on Tuesday in Berlin by the president of Freie Universität, Prof. Dr. Peter-André Alt, and the executive director of the Topography of Terror Foundation, Prof. Dr. Andreas Nachama.

Fewer and fewer survivors and witnesses of National Socialism can share their memories. Eyewitness interviews make it possible for students and researchers to deal with the experiences of survivors of the Nazi regime in a differentiated and in-depth way. Freie Universität Berlin provides access to three major digital archives containing materials from witnesses of National Socialism: the Visual History Archive of the Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education of the University of Southern California (USC); the Refugee Voices Archive of the Association of Jewish Refugees (AJR); and the Forced Labor 1939–1945 archive, which is compiled and updated by the Center for Digital Systems (CeDiS) at Freie Universität. One focus is on making the eyewitness interviews accessible for education purposes. "Even though personal encounters with survivors and witnesses cannot be replaced by any medium, their memories and the stories of their lives are increasingly important for learning about history," said Prof. Dr. Peter-André Alt, president of Freie Universität Berlin.

From 1933 to 1945 the most important centers of the Nazi regime were located on the present site of the Topography of Terror Documentation Center, next to the Martin Gropius Building and near Potsdamer Platz. Since 1987, on this site of perpetration there has been a permanent exhibition that focuses on the main institutions of National Socialist persecution and terror. Additional educational programs deal specifically with the motives and actions of the perpetrators and their impact on the lives of the population. “Considering the perpetrators from the perspective of the victims is an important aspect of the educational work of the Topography of Terror Foundation. The eyewitness interviews are an important additional authentic resource,” according to Prof. Dr. Nachama, director of the Topography of Terror Foundation.

Further Information

  • Kay-Uwe von Damaros, Topography of Terror Foundation, Tel.: +49 (0)30 / 254 509 35, Email: presse@topographie.de
  • Katrin Plank-Sabha, Center for Digital Systems (CeDiS), Freie Universität Berlin, Tel.: +49 (0)30 / 838 537 05, Email: kplank@cedis.fu-berlin.de