Digital Exhibition in the Bergen Belsen Memorial on the postwar DP camp, April 2019
Gedenkstätte Bergen-Belsen together with the IBEC Barcelona ICACCESS team developed a digital exhibition detailing the biographies of the multinational community of the DP camp under British administration and the complex political discussions, that touch upon de-colonization, the beginnings of the Cold War and the beginnings of humanitarianism, weaving around this camp.
Site analysis Jachymov and Lety, workshop in Pilsen, the Czech Republic, June 2018
The ICACCESS team met in Pilsen to discuss the two sites in the Czech Republic, which present both a controversial aspect of the Roma Holocaust and the broader context of socialist and postsocialist history of camps. In recent years, Lety has been at the centre of controversies around the silencing of the history of repression of the Roma in the wider context of the European memory of the Holocaust. Its very existence has also been questioned by a number of political actors in the country and abroad so an in-depth understanding of the history of memory of the site was important to guide the research in our project. After a visit to the site (a former kolkhoz on the site has been removed due, partly, to the efforts of the University of West Bohemia team) we have tested the first technical prototypes which would allow wider access to this heritage. Research was focused on the archaeological traces of the cemetery of the camp, which is currently under investigation and the memory of the camp among locals. We have also perused, as a team, through the documentation gathered by the Czech team concerning the perspective on Lety during the war and in the Holocaust narrative during socialism, all part of the perspective on competing memories around the site. In Jachymov, we were confronted with a site which has been totally reused (as a leisure space) which holds very little traces of the labour and prison camp administered by the socialist Czech authorities, also partly for the uranium needed by Stalin’s nuclear program. Stories of prisoners speak about brutal conditions of work but also a diverse population in the underground tunnels, from prisoners of war, Roma to Czech citizens who were deemed “dangerous” to the new regime. The history of the repression here has been since 1989 a debated and fractured history. The project team consequently discussed ways of placing the camp in the wider frame of the European memory dynamics investigated by the project.
Site analysis and workshop at the Falstad Memorial and Human Rights Center, Norway, May 2018
The ICACCESS team convened in Falstad, on the premises of the former SS prison camp (1941-1945). Both prior to that, and after the 1945-1949 interval when former collaborators were interned, Falstad functioned as an educational facility (The Falstad Reformative School and Ekne State School). Given the perspective it employs concerning its history, and the explicit framing of memorialization on site through human rights and education, the Falstad Memorial prompts a new configuration of memorial debates for the research conducted in the project. From the perspective of framing a former space of political violence, the site problematizes the usages and constraints of what today is acknowledged as a transnational human rights paradigm. It equally evokes the tensions triggered by attempts to reconcile the ethics of remembrance set by the voice of victims and survivors with a collective and future oriented memory discourse. During the workshop, the team investigated both the representations on and of the site, and discussed possibilities of broadening and modulating existing perspectives by incorporating perspectives on areas still separated from the memorial as such: the forensic traces in the forest, the stone quarry used for forced labour. The side event of the workshop focused on the wider debate on digitality and memorial practices, in particular in spaces of “negative heritage”. Members of the ICACCESS consortium reflected on usability and representatives of the Bergen Belsen and the Westerbork Memorials discussed their recent experiences with the educational tools developed by ICACCESS team members in Barcelona. During this event, a prototype of a VR rendering of the original architecture and scale of the SS camp in Falstad (developed in the ICACCESS framework) was evaluated by a selected target group of museum and educational professionals.
Site analysis and workshop in Jasenovac, March 2018
The 5th team research workshop has been held in Jasenovac,Croatia, between March 10th-14th, 2018. During the three days, the teams surveyed the former Ustaše concentration camp in Croatia and the extensive environs of repression, which today are not included in the official Jasenovac memorial built on the site of Camp 3. The priority of the research visit was to analyze and integrate the research on the prisons from the nearby Stara Gradiska, the mass graves from Donja Gradina (after 1995 a separate memorial), the Roma graves in Ustica in the narrative and history of the site. These new research connections are meant to open historical and memorial perspectives that illustrate the tensions and dynamics in the remembrance of the history of Jasenovac given the stake of the site during the socialist period and its various appropriations concerning the breakup of Yugoslavia. The memorial perspective is consequently also meant to respond and engage with the visible revisionist and competing claims of victimhood concerning the Second World War and the socialist regime framed around Jasenovac.
Between October 13th and October 15th 2017, on the 75th commemoration of the transports that left from Westerbork to Bergen Belsen, the ICACCESS team (SPECS, UvA) together with Memorial Kamp Westerbork introduced in the memorial’s temporary display a VR interactive installation that probes the dynamics of materiality and memory of the two former camps. Next to a 3D reconstruction of camp Westerbork, the VR installation allows the visitor to consult, in parallel, a 3D model already developed for the Bergen-Belsen memorial (developed by SPECS Barcelona in cooperation with GBB). This interactive mapping allowed Michael Gelber, an eyewitness of both camps during the Second World War, to recount his trajectory and story through the simulated spaces of 1944 and 1945 now available. As a witness and survivor of the transports, M. Gelber has also been supportive of this interactive reconstruction, particularly noticing its educational potential. Next to this virtual narrative, the initiative also pinpointed several broad aspects of memory contestations, dynamics and selectivity on the two campsites. Two other events evoked these histories on the site itself. HCKW hosted a public walking route showcasing several previously unknown areas of the campgrounds related to the guarding system of detainees. A brochure introducing several broader concerns of “perpetrator heritage” was made available to the public. During the three days, visitors could also see initial archaeology investigations on site during the scanning (by infrared) of the so-called “Heidelager” area of the camp (the SS-Training camp), together with the scanning of the former Commander’s House (Staffordshire University and Scanlab, UCL), which will both be included in further reconstructions and research off-site in the project.
ICACCESS workshop, October 2017
The 4th research workshop of the project was organised in Westerbork. On the 15th of October, IC_ACCESS in collaboration with Herinneringscentrum Kamp Westerbork introduced in the temporary display of the Westerbork memorial a digital modelling of camp Westerbork in the year 1944, together with a mirroring virtual spatial environment previously developed for Bergen Belsen, by the SPECS research group of Universitat Pompeu Fabra in collaboration with Gedenkstatte Bergen-Belsen. During the event, the archaeology teams were also involved in scanning the Heidelager location and the camp commander’s house on site, both for future reconstruction. Dirk Mulder, director of the Westerbork Memorial Center discusses part the relevance of this research. A report and visual material from the event is accessible here and an evaluation of the intervention here.
Research in Lety, the Czech Republic, July 2017
The teams of WP3 have been conducting archaeological investigations in Lety. A documentation of the visit will be available online soon.
Research visit to the Jasenovac Memorial Site, Croatia, 8-11 June 2017
The teams of WP1 and WP3 are conducting a research visit to Jasenovac. A documentation of the visit is available here.
Workshop and site visit to the Museum of Struggle and Martyrdom in Treblinka and the site, Poland, 5-8 May 2017
The project team is in Treblinka for a site and research visit, together with archaeological investigations. A documentation of the visit is available online here.
Research visit to the Falstad Memorial Centre, Norway, 21-25 April 2017
The team of WP1 is conducting a research visit to Falstad. A documentation of the visit is available here.
PhD vacancy within Ic_Access ’20th Century Terrorscapes and Transitional Justice’
Workshop and site visit Gendekstatte Bergen Belsen, Germany
The project team is on an on site visit between January 18th – 21th, 2017. A documentation of the visit is available here.
Workshop and site visit Kamp Westerbork, the Netherlands
Our first site visit and workshop scheduled between 18th -20th October 2016. A documentation of the visit will be available online soon.