Get to know Jewish children of the Nazi period with an app
Where did Jewish children in Berlin live during the Nazi era? Where did they go to school? What did their day-to-day lives look like in the face of increasingly strict antisemitic legislation? And what were the consequences of persecution for these young people? With “Marbles of Remembrance” and a smartphone, anyone can set off and search for traces of their lives in Berlin.
“Marbles of Remembrance” uses a chatbot that runs free of charge on the messaging service Telegram to offer an interactive approach to learning about history. Five multimedia city tours give users the opportunity to learn about the lives of various young people – Zvi Aviram is one of them. Until his parents were deported in 1943, Zvi lived with his family in Prenzlauer Berg in Berlin. He managed to go into hiding, join a resistance group, and survive several arrests.
Users can learn more about Zvi’s life story on a tour through Prenzlauer Berg. Four more tours routed through neighborhoods like Mitte, Wilmersdorf, and Schöneberg tell the stories of other Jewish children and young people who went into hiding in Berlin, were taken away from Germany, or were murdered in the Holocaust in the Nazi era.
The Arolsen Archives hold millions of documents about Nazi persecution. They are digitizing the documents and adding metadata to describe them. The Arolsen Archives also provide access to their digital collections for innovative educational projects.
“Marbles of Remembrance” is funded by the Foundation “Remembrance, Responsibility and Future” and was developed in cooperation with fabular.ai. In 2017, the Arolsen Archives took part in a culture hackathon in Berlin. More and more museums, archives, and libraries are benefitting from competitions like this one, where teams of computer scientists, designers, and other specialists make use of the institutions’ datasets for innovative applications.
“Marbles of Remembrance” – one of the projects that uses data from the Arolsen Archives – won the jury prize for especially valuable cultural achievements. It is based on the card file of the Reich Association of Jews which, at the behest of the Gestapo, registered all German Jews. The card file contains a special collection of so-called pupil cards. During the programming competition, the team from fabular.ai used these pupil cards to create a tour of Berlin from the perspective of Jewish children during the Nazi period.
»Digitization and innovative formats enable us to find all sorts of new ways to tell the stories of Nazi persecutees on the basis of the documents in our archive. ›Marbles of Remembrance‹ offers multimedia tours – this is a new approach for us. The stories are told not only through text messages, but also with documents, photos, infographics, and voice messages.«Christian Höschler, Arolsen Archives
Uncover the city’s hidden history
With data on over 8,500 children from Berlin and more than 340 locations, a wealth of additional information can be called up at any time all over the city to complement the content of the tours themselves. This brings the memory of the places connected with the youngest victims of Nazism and their fates into day-to-day life in the present.
Users can also ask the chatbot questions about the history of the Holocaust and find out more about the archival collections which the chatbot is based on. These interactive functions and various other features of “Marbles of Remembrance” promote self-directed engagement with the Holocaust and with Berlin’s urban history and the destruction of Jewish life there.
»We’ve grown up with the Internet and with smartphones – and that’s how we get most of our information. Direct communication on social media platforms is part of everyday life and learning. That makes the chatbot particularly suitable as a new medium for interactive storytelling. This way, you experience history on a more direct, more emotional level.«Nina Hentschel, Co-Founder & CMO at Fabular.ai