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nsdoku prize 2020

Awarded to the Fondation du Camp des Milles – Mémoire et Éducation in Aix-en-Provence

Every two years since 2018 the Munich Documentation Center for the History of National Socialism has awarded a prize for outstanding publications, activities, or projects that have made a key contribution to informing the public about National Socialism, about the crimes committed by the Nazi regime, and about the consequences and continuing impact of the Nazi era. The prize for 2019/2020, endowed with 8,000 euros, has been awarded to the Fondation du Camp des Milles – Mémoire et Éducation in Aix-en-Provence in recognition of its outstanding memorial work at the Site-Mémorial du Camp des Milles. Its work highlights the major significance of transnational remembrance in Europe in a time when extremism is increasing.
The Camp des Milles, located near the city of Aix-en-Provence in the South of France, is a former brickworks that was used from 1939 to 1942 first as a prison camp and later as a deportation camp for the Jewish population. An initiative fought for thirty years to stop the former camp being destroyed. In 2012 it was finally declared a memorial site and developed. The "Les Milles" camp epitomizes the complex history of the crimes committed by the Germans in occupied France and the collaboration and co-responsibility of the Vichy government. It is a place where the specific history of displacement, migration, and deportation during the Nazi regime is portrayed particularly vividly.

In explaining its reasons for awarding the prize, the jury particularly emphasized the committed educational work of this comparatively young institution. The Site-Mémorial du Camp des Milles works actively with young people and always ad-dresses the past with reference to the present. It asks, for example, how mechanisms that generate hatred can be identified at an early stage and how people today can actively resist right-wing extremist, antisemitic, and racist tendencies. Here great value is placed on the perspectives of young target groups—one approach, for example, is to discuss antisemitism with young Muslims. Other target groups include the police and judges for whom seminars are held to sensitize them to racism and antisemitism. The educational center also took a highly dynamic approach during the Covid lockdown, when "Les Milles" teams visited classes that were prevented from traveling by the pandemic. Digital distance learning was offered to kindergarten and school teachers and to social workers, and resources were made available online.

The awarding of the prize is a signal for a lively discourse about our common histo-ry and memory and an appeal for transnational collaboration between European memorial sites. The jury's decision encourages the Documentation Center in its efforts to show solidarity with historical institutions in other countries and to sup-port them at a time when the tendency towards a nationalistically motivated historical amnesia is growing.