"With the aging of the last generation of Holocaust survivors,
it is essential that the evidence and documentation of the Shoah be rescued, preserved, and made accessible for generations to come."
Claims Conference Chairman
Participants in the Claims Conference symposium on
Shoah research, documentation and Jewish/Shoah education held in
Jerusalem in May 2001 raised the need for an annual gathering of
archivists working with Holocaust-era materials. They expressed
concern that many archives are closed to sharing information, employ
different methods of preservation and may be overlapping in their
work. The consensus was that the field would benefit significantly
from greater cooperation and coordination.
The Claims Conference considers it crucial that institutions dealing with Holocaust-era materials work together to safeguard the memory of the Shoah for future generations. In part greater cooperation and coordination is needed for the efficient distribution of funds: in recent years, for example, applications for grants have been made to the Claims Conference by numerous institutions for microfilming projects that overlap with each other (e.g., microfilming of the same archives, microfilming which in some cases has already been done). But to a much larger extent, greater cooperation and coordination is needed to ensure full preservation of the documentation of the Holocaust and universal access to that documentation ten, fifty, one-hundred, two-hundred years from now.
Accordingly, the Claims Conference has organized a series of meetings and activities under the general title of the International Shoah Archivists Working Forum. We have asked representatives of Yad Vashem ( Dr. Yaacov Lozowick, Director of the Archives) , the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (Dr. Radu Ioanid, Director, International Archival Programs), and the Centre de Documentation Juive Contemporaine (Mr. Jacques Fredj, Director) to join the Claims Conference in a Steering Committee that also has the participation of two independent scholars of the Holocaust who are also very knowledgeable concerning archives: Professor Tuvia Friling of Ben-Gurion University, formerly the State Archivist of Israel; and Professor Richard Breitman of American University, Editor of the journal Holocaust and Genocide Studies. Responsible for administration of the Forum for the Claims Conference are Dr. Wesley Fisher, Director of Research, and Ms. Marina Andrews, Program Associate, Allocations.