Windows into History
Also the Jawne Memorial and Educational Center is affected by the fact that the witnesses connected to the historical place are slowly leaving us or due to their old age and health conditions are no longer able to visit us.
In order to be able to continue to report on the history of the Jewish center that was located on St. Apern Street and to keep the memory of the disappeared place alive, alongside life-history reports and interviews, we will be particularly dependent on the material heritage and the documents of the witnesses.
Their letters, postcards, diaries, artworks, photographs, official and family documents are windows into history, which from the perspectives of the persecuted provide important information on the atmosphere and events during National Socialism, and later times. Thereby the stories behind the documents often leave the constraints of the school grounds of the Jawne:
Letters from youths rescued by a Kindertransport describe the new life in England, picture postcards showing ocean liners are mementos of the escape from Nazi Germany, official letters soberly and coolly inform of the death of parents in the Auschwitz extermination-camp, and photo albums gather visual documents of hope and new beginnings in London, New York City, or a kibbutz in Israel.
The diversity of the collection assembled so far is at the same time its great quality.
In recent years, numerous contacts have been established with surviving former Jawne students in different countries and on different continents. In the framework of private visits and the preparation of exhibition projects, interviews were conducted; photo albums and other personal documents could be partially viewed and fragments from them either photographed or filmed.
A systematic recording, digital saving and documentation of these valuable archival records, however, could not be accomplished yet.
In the summer of 2019 the Documents Working Group launched a new project in close cooperation with former Jawne students and their families living in Israel:
Several private archives and estates could be sifted through in detail. A significant part of the sources was professionally digitized with the aim of making the materials suitable for the documentary and pedagogical work of the Jawne Memorial and Educational Center. In addition to many other documents previously unknown to us, materials directly related to the teaching at the Jawne in the form of textbooks, exercise books and drawings were found and documented for the first time.
The participation of former Jawne students or their descendants, played a key role in this process. Oftentimes, children and grandchildren either did not understand the German-language documents or they did not know how to categorize them. Due to the lack of transmission of the German language, it is important to involve children and grandchildren to provide them with information about the documents, but also, they are an invaluable help in in the process of sifting through, and saving the documents. The provision of translations and explanations; as well as advise on questions of preservation and accessibility of the documents will be one of the tasks of the project group in the future.
The project was initially stopped by the COVID-19 pandemic, but is planned to be continued in Israel and the USA as soon as possible.
About the developments of the project, news related to specific documents as well as presentations or other forms of publication we will keep you informed here.