Gale to Digitize Holocaust & Resistance Collections

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Filed under Library News:  Archives & Research Collections

Gale, part of Cengage Learning, and McMaster University Library announced an agreement for Gale to digitize the Library's WWII Holocaust, propaganda and Jewish underground resistance collections.

"The depth and importance of the McMaster collection make it one of the leading Holocaust and Resistance archives in the world," said Jim Draper, vice president and publisher, Gale. "We are proud to have the opportunity to digitize these invaluable documents--and to make them available to a wider audience--so that students and researchers, no matter their location, can access these extraordinary materials that are crucial to a full understanding of the magnitude of the Holocaust and the period of the Second World War."

The Holocaust collection covers the period between 1933 and 1945, when millions of people were imprisoned and died in Nazi concentration camps throughout Europe. Nearly 2,000 poignant letters in several different languages from or to prisoners in Dachau, Buchenwald and Auschwitz, as well as in Gestapo prisons and POW camps, comprise much of the collection's material. In many instances there are 20 letters or more written by the same prisoner, an uncommon feature in such a collection when often only a single letter survives. There is also a diary of the Nazi evacuation from Ravensbrück (women's concentration camp) as well as a hand-fashioned recipe book which prisoners exchanged among themselves. This collection also includes books, posters, magazines, newspapers and air-drop leaflets.

In addition, Gale will digitize materials from the Jewish underground resistance collection, including documents from the personal collection of David Diamant, a Jewish communist and committed member of the underground resistance during World War II. The documents, which are mainly in French and Yiddish, deal primarily with the Jewish segment of the French underground resistance, with many of the documents originating from communist groups and some from Polish groups. Documents on prisoners and deportations, as well as songs and poems from prisoners are included.

"The tragic, historical record of the Holocaust and the war-related stories and events of the victims and resisters should never be forgotten. McMaster University Library is committed to the description and digitization of its Holocaust and Resistance collections in order to make these unique materials available on a global basis," said Dr. Carl Spadoni, Director of Research Collections, McMaster University Library.

Gale will begin digitizing this collection in November and expects to make the first part available to customers as part of Gale's Archives Unbound starting in spring 2011.