Questions about the #LastSeen project
We currently know of photos of deportations from the German Reich that were taken in 57 places between 1938 and 1945. The project partners want to find more photographs and study them carefully – in other words, the aim is to gather together as many pictures and as much detailed information about those pictures as possible. This involves a lot of research and often requires very detailed local knowledge, so we are asking for support and hoping to receive help from as many volunteers as possible. The pictures are published on an interactive website, and further information is added. We want to keep the memory of the victims alive and create a basis for further research. We are also developing a digital education program for schools.
Our goal is to bring together as many pictures of deportations as possible and analyze them in detail. To do this, we need a lot of volunteer support. The project will result in an innovative and interactive website as well as an educational program for schools based on the deportation photos. We want to bring memory into the present day and create a basis for further research.
#LastSeen is an initiative of the Arolsen Archives with the following partners:
- House of the Wannsee Conference Memorial and Educational Site
- Institute for Municipal History and Remembrance, Munich
- USC Dornsife Center for Advanced Genocide Research, Los Angeles
- Center for Research on Antisemitism, TU Berlin
The project is being sponsored by the Remembrance, Responsibility and Future Foundation (EVZ) and Federal Ministry of Finance on the basis of a decision of the German Bundestag.
Anyone who can join in. All you need is an interest in the topic and some time for research. The more people join us in our search for pictures, the more comprehensive and more detailed the results will be.
We want to encourage you to look for hitherto undiscovered photographs of Nazi deportations. When you show us what you find, our researchers will review the pictures and try to determine what they depict. You can also help us identify the people and places in the photographs.
We think there are probably previously unknown images in local and national archives and at memorial sites, for example, but also in private collections and in photo albums that you might find in attics or at flea markets, for example. Think about where you might find photos from the Nazi era in your area and share your discoveries with us.
The “Contact“ section of our website has a postal address and an email address you can use to send us any pictures you find (scans, copies, or originals). Our experts will analyze the pictures. Please tell us everything you know about the photos, since every detail can help: Where did you find the picture? Do you have other pictures or information? Is there anything on the back of the picture? Do you recognize the place where the picture was taken?
We are developing an interactive, participatory tool that students can use to interpret and understand the deportation photos. Young people will be involved in this right from the start. The low-threshold digital resource will offer perspectives that resonate with younger generations. The resource will be freely available to schools and extracurricular educational institutions throughout Germany, and workshops will be offered as well.
The idea for the project came out of the conference on “Deportations in the Nazi era – Sources and Research,” which was held by the Arolsen Archives in November 2020. Based on the organization’s digital expertise – and at the request of the participants – the Arolsen Archives took the initiative and set about implementing the idea as quickly as possible. They found a number of partner organizations who wanted to join them. The Arolsen Archives will keep the #LastSeen initiative alive even after the project funding ends so that the findings are available for other educational projects and researchers.
The Arolsen Archives are the world’s most comprehensive archive on the victims and survivors of National Socialism. Visit our website to find out more about our many projects and campaigns.
You can also subscribe to our email newsletter for updates on #LastSeen as well as other news, events and initiatives from the Arolsen Archives.
Questions about how to use the images
All photos from the #LastSeen collection are legally protected. If you want to use or publish images from the digital collection in another (digital or print) context, you will need the permission of the rights’ holders to do so. That is why you are kindly requested to direct your inquiry to the archive which is owner of the photo you are interested in. You will find the archive’s name under the respective photo. Feel free to point out that you saw the image at #LastSeen. If you have any questions, please contact email@example.com.
Questions about archival cooperation
To achieve our goal of bringing together all existing historical sources, we need the support of every archive that has photographs of deportations.
#LastSeen and the Arolsen Archives are not given any image rights, they have digital usage rights only. All archives that contribute photographic material will be named on the website.
The website will also notify users that they need authorization from the respective archives to use or publish any of the images.
We are also asking archives to look for photographs in their collections even if pictures of deportations have not previously been found in them. The project partners are in direct contact with the archives for this purpose.
Photographs are an increasingly important resource for teaching the history of the Nazi period, particularly now that there are fewer and fewer survivors able to talk about their experiences. We see three important benefits for the participating archives:
- The pictures in their collections will reach a wider audience and spark greater interest.
- In the #LastSeen project, each individual image is analyzed and linked to as much metadata and information and to as many other sources as possible. The archives can use this information in their own finding aids.
- The archives will play an active role in an important project for the long-term preservation of the memory of Nazi persecution – because the deportations were a key structural element in the Nazis’ policy of persecution and extermination.