Museum Researchers Identify More Than 20,000 Sites—Far More Than Scholars Previously Knew Existed
June 3, 2009
WASHINGTON, DC — The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has just released the first of a projected seven-volume Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos, 1933-1945, which when complete, will provide the first comprehensive survey of all known Nazi camps and ghettos. Museum researchers have identified more than 20,000 such sites, several times more than anticipated at the project’s outset.
The Encyclopedia, published by Indiana University Press in association with the Museum, will bring together, in English, information that until now has been scattered through millions of pages of published and archival material in many different languages. The project represents a significant international effort, with contributions from hundreds of scholars from several European countries, Israel, and the United States, as well as the participation of many different archives, research centers and memorial sites.
“Our research has revealed that the Nazi concentration camp universe was much larger than scholars had previously believed,” says Geoffrey Megargee, the encyclopedia project director in the Museum’s Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies. “The size, scope and interconnectedness of the camp system can only be understood through a comprehensive examination. This project will provide the public and historians with a much more detailed understanding of the scale of the Nazis’ systematic attempt to exterminate Europe’s Jews, as well as their persecution of other groups for racial and political reasons.”
Volume one, with a Foreword by Nobel laureate and Museum founding chairman Elie Wiesel, covers the early camps that the Nazi regime set up in its first months in power, as well as the complex of concentration camps—including Auschwitz-Birkenau, Buchenwald, Dachau, and Bergen-Belsen, among others—that emerged later on. The volume’s two books, totaling over 1,700 pages with 192 photographs and 23 maps, give details on over 1,000 camps.
“This will be an indispensable resource for Holocaust scholarship,” says Paul Shapiro, Director of the Museum’s Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies. “The Museum is committed to ensuring that the full extent of the Holocaust is known, especially as the denial of the Holocaust as a historical reality increases.”
The six additional volumes will be published between now and 2018. More information is available on the Museum’s Web site, where the book can also be purchased, at www.ushmm.org/research/center/encyclopedia.
A living memorial to the Holocaust, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum inspires citizens and leaders to confront hatred, promote human dignity and prevent genocide. Federal support guarantees the Museum’s permanent place on the National Mall, and its far-reaching educational programs and global impact are made possible by the generosity of donors nationwide. For more information, visit www.ushmm.org.