Let the pictures tell their stories
The #LastSeen initiative focuses on pictures of Nazi deportations from the German Reich between 1938 and 1945. The photographs show the final moments in which deportees were forcibly removed from German society – usually while bystanders looked on.
The Nazis committed many crimes in full view of the public. Pictures of these crimes are very valuable as documentary evidence. They can play an important role in research and education, but many have not yet been analyzed or made publicly available.
The #LastSeen initiative aims to change this. By working together, we hope to:
- Find more pictures
By asking volunteers to help us conduct an intensive search campaign in public and private archives, we want to find more unknown photographic material and add to the body of knowledge in this field.
- Let the pictures tell their stories
The pictures that have already been found will be systematically processed and evaluated by researchers.
- Provide access to the pictures
Parallel to the ongoing academic work, we will create a website in English and German to bring together all the pictures and the information that we find. We will also develop an interactive educational resource that analyzes particular images and offers a way to approach the history of Nazi deportations.
Anyone interested in history and willing to give some time to the project can help make #LastSeen a success. The goal is to track down more photographs of deportations and collect additional information about where they come from and what they show by working together with the project researchers.
Jews, Sinti and Roma people, and victims of the Krankenmorde (the mass murder of people who were sick or disabled) were often deported in full public view. Many of the photographs show not only the persecutees and the perpetrators, but also spectators – men, women, and even children and adolescents.
»When we think about deportations, we don’t usually think of them taking place during the day, in the open, with spectators. The photos reveal how many people knew about the deportations or even participated in them.«Floriane Azoulay, Director of the Arolsen Archives
Photographs and some film footage from about 57 locations in the German Reich are currently known to exist, but this material has never been systematically compiled and made available to the public. We want to change this. Our findings, along with digital copies of the photographs, will be accessible on a website in German and English. Our preliminary research has already uncovered previously unpublished images, and we want to find more photographs with your help.
Recognizing pictures of deportations
Without background knowledge, it is not always easy to tell whether a picture shows a deportation or something else. If you find a picture that might show a deportation, share it with us and our researchers will study it to determine what kind of situation it depicts.
Finding pictures and making them accessible
We want to do more than just collect the pictures – we also want to date them and study them in depth. This involves time-consuming research and often requires very detailed local knowledge. The more people share their knowledge and help fill in the gaps, the more precisely we can describe the pictures of Nazi deportations for the #LastSeen initiative.
Together we want to find answers to lingering questions: Who are the people in the pictures? When did the deportation take place? Where was the picture taken? Who took it?