The cinematography of the Holocaust is a reference database, which makes information on films on the history and impact of the Holocaust available for academic research and to an interested public.
Under the aegis of the Fritz Bauer Institute, film archivists, film historians and Holocaust researchers have worked on indexing and documenting the film holdings since 1992. The constituent meeting of the »Arbeitsgruppe Cinematographie des Holocaust« (Cinematography of the Holocaust Working Group) was held in Berlin on 9 December 1992 at the invitation of Deutsches Historisches Museum. Cooperation partners were CineGraph e.V., Hamburgische Centrum für Filmforschung, Deutsche Filminstitut – DIF and das Deutsche Filmmuseum Frankfurt am Main (the latter now comprises the DFF – Deutsches Filminstitut & Filmmuseum). Film historian Ronny Loewy was the head and ‘guiding spirit’ of the project sponsored by the DEFA Foundation and Hoechst AG/Aventis.
The cinematography of the Holocaust now comprises nearly 4,000 cinematographic works. The very heterogeneous corpus of material is indexed by theme and cinematographic aspects. Recordings include video documents made by the Allied Forces documenting the liberation of the concentration and extermination camps, Nazi propaganda films and its concerted German Weekly Review short films, US anti-Nazi films from the 1940s, and Yiddish cinema, as well as thematically related documentaries and TV films from the post-war era.
With Ronny Loewy’s death in 2012, development in cinematography of the Holocaust came to a standstill. Moreover, use of the database has been restricted for the last several years. The user interface no longer meets current standards. The Fritz Bauer Institute and the DFF have now agreed a cooperation in order to technically update the database and make it fully accessible once again via a new website. The joint project has been made possible through funding by the friends’ association Fritz Bauer Institute e.V.
The cinematography of the Holocaust is also one of the most important ressources for the EU Hoizon 2020 project »Visual History of the Holocaust: Rethinking Curation in the Digital Age« (2019–2022). This project explores the potentials as well as the limitations of digital technologies in the ongoing effort to preserve, analyze and communicate historical evidence of the Holocaust, and in particular audiovisual records. The Fritz Bauer Institute is Associated Partner of the Visual History of the Holocaust Consortium.