According to MEP Christian Ehler, research into the Holocaust helps to ensure that the mass execution of Jewish people during World War II can help to put the genesis of the EU into context.
The MEP was speaking at an event on 25 January at the European Parliament to commemorate the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp. It was jointly hosted by Ehler and MEP Jerzy Buzek.
Ehler said: “These days, all over the world, Holocaust research is more important than ever.
“The atrocities are so extreme that people from the younger generation tend to say that it’s something from the past. [It is important to have this] documentation of this terrible shift from normality to Holocaust.”
The event was designed to showcase the work of the European Holocaust Research Infrastructure (EHRI), an EU-funded project set up in 2010 to build a suite of digital resources that pull together information from and about Europe’s various Holocaust archives.
Professor Frank Bajohr, head of the Centre for Holocaust Studies at LMU Munich, Germany, and an EHRI board member, said: “Europe has an advantage, it has a rich variety of institutions, but this is also a disadvantage as far as visibility is concerned. Orientation is difficult, in particular for younger scholars – many languages, many institutions, many, many archives.”
Over the last six years, EHRI has established a network of Holocaust scholars across 15 countries, including the US and Israel and EU member states.
Robert-Jan Smits, the EU’s director general for research and innovation, said that while EU support for social science research projects was less well known than for those in other sciences, this type of research was the “jewel in the crown” of the Horizon 2020 funding programme.
The EHRI project is now exploring ways to secure funding to keep the resource going on a permanent basis beyond the project’s end in 2019.