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Monday, 31 January 2011

Genocide witnesses may be added to Holocaust survivors database (Czech Rep)

The centre of Holocaust history Malach could be extended in future with testimonies on the genocides in Armenia, Cambodia and Rwanda, Martin Smok told journalists at a conference on the first anniversary of the centre Friday.

Smok cooperates with the Shoah Foundation of University of Southern California that has recorded the 52,000 interviews with survivors of concentration camps, particularly Jews, Romanies, German homosexuals, Jehovah's Witnesses and others, since the 1990s.

The database is now accessible at the Mathematical-Physical Faculty of Charles University in Prague.

Smok said the survivors talk about their experience from extermination camps as well as about their fates, emigration and the communist totalitarian regime.

The database is visited mainly by students who need the information for their school works and by historians.

"In Europe the survivors are afraid," Smok said in reply to a question whether the database could be freely accessible on the Internet in the future.

Many of them fear that the data could be abused to persecute their descendants. Another obstacle are laws on personal data protection.

The recordings come from 56 countries of the world and they have been made in 32 languages.

The Malach centre offers for immediate access more than 500 interviews in Czech, further in Slovak and Polish.

The data are physically stored at the University of Southern California, USA.

Besides, they are accessible at another two centres in Europe, in Berlin and Budapest. The whole database is accessible at another 23 places in the world.

The Armenian genocide is blamed on Turks. The Armenians say the massacres and deportations in the years 1915-1917 cost 1.5 million lives. Turkey speaks about 300,000 to 500,000 people. However, it says it was not genocide, but that the Armenians fell victim to the chaos of the last years of the Osmanic Empire.

In Cambodia, the communist regime in the latter half of the 1970s murdered 1.7 million people during an attempt to create a class-free agrarian society not knowing money, the rule of law, personal freedom, family relations, independent thinking and technological achievements.

In Rwanda members of the Hutu majority tribe massacred some 800,000 minority Tutsis and dozens of thousands of members of their own ethnicity during a three-month ethnic conflict in 1994.

Prague Monitor