In cooperation with the Lander Institute for Holocaust Communication and Tolerance at Touro College Berlin, the non-profit association Anti Defamation Center (Berlin) is starting preparations for the project „Mesusa: Digital Atlas of Aryanization“: as a project for a new, digital culture of remembrance.
During the National Socialist era, hundreds of thousands of houses, flats and companies owned by Jews were systematically „expropriated“; in many cases it was state-organized robbery. Where compensation was paid, the amounts were usually ridiculous. The former owners were driven into exile or murdered in ‚concentration camps‘.
For the first time, this atlas is intended to record the stolen properties and companies digitally and comprehensively and to document the owners before, during and after the „Aryanization“.
The corresponding content is stored in an Open Access database. The aim is to process history and make it publicly and freely accessible to everyone.
Each ‚aryanised‘ property – house, flat or business – is to receive a digital „Mesusa“, which provides information in five languages (German, English, Hebrew, Arabic and Turkish) about the robbed owner. In addition, information about any previous owners and profiteers of the ‚Aryanization‘ is also offered.
A „Mesusa“ traditionally identifies a Jewish building, a Jewish house or a Jewish apartment. It is mounted as a small panel accessible in the upper third on the right side of the entrance.
Similar to the ‚Stumbling Stones‘, the memorial plaque is intended to be publicly displayed as a symbolic ‚Mesusa‘: Once on the Internet and – where possible – once at eye level at the house in question.
Where possible and available, the information about the real estate owners is supplemented by more detailed information. It is planned to include affected persons, descendants and researchers.
An app is intended to appeal especially to young people and schools. A multimedia information service on the Schoa and a comprehensive list of links via the app and website are to be made available to support this.
First prominent voices from economy, culture, science and politics support this project: Elio Adler, Edwin Baumgartner, Volker Beck, Gerd Buurmann, Yortai Feinberg, Michael Grauss, Dr. Rafael Korenzecher, Markus Löning, Ben Salomo, Peter Sichrovsky, Dr. Jürgen Sudhoff, Sacha Stawski and Attila Teri. The aim is for this atlas to go online in November 2019 with the first 100 Mesusot – i.e. documented „aryanizations“ with a focus on Berlin and Vienna.
„We are convinced that German society and the public sector will assume their responsibility here and make this project financially possible,“ Izi Aharon is convinced. He is chairman of the Anti Defamation Center and editor of HaOlam, a german-israeli daily online-newspaper based in Berlin.
Dean Prof. Dr. Peter Klein of the Lander Institute for Holocaust Communication and Tolerance: „As a practice-oriented course of studies, we do not only teach the history of the Holocaust, but rather the communicative handling of this heritage, for which the Mesusa project is an example.”
To safeguard the project, a crowdfunding campaign will be launched at the beginning of September. „Until the beginning, other well-known public figures such as organizations will certainly support this project, which will carry the crowdfunding,“ says fundraising manager Naftali Neugebauer with conviction.
„It will be a joint effort and will show whether sufficient support can be found in Germany and Austria for this new path of a digital culture of remembrance and processing,“ concluded Neugebauer.
The rector of Touro College Berlin, Sara Nachama, sums up the project as follows: „The Mesusa project has two things to discover. First, the Jewish Berlin of the 1930s based on addresses, and second, the extent of injustice committed based on their fates.”