You are our community!

Posted on November 11, 2012


Thursday, November 8, everyone associated with Center for White Rose Studies – friends, donors, fellow researchers, questioning students, interested bystanders, and board members alike – shared in an unexpected honor. We, all of us together, won the prize in the media category of Wharton Business School’s inaugural Social Media Leadership Award.

I may have been the lucky person who accepted the beautiful trophy, cheered on by long-time supporters Tom Speelhoffer and Dan Markind. But everyone who asks questions, corrects facts, thinks out loud, takes pictures, provokes discussions, or talks about German resistance (and informed dissent and civil disobedience) played a significant role in this honor.

Because when Melanie Boyce and Chris Hewitt used our White Rose travel guide and came back with “did you know?”, they added to the conversation. When Donald Dembling took addresses in Ulm and went exploring, his photographs explained elements of life in Ulm that we’d missed.

Susan Benedict adds to our understanding of Traute Lafrenz’s life. Domenic Saller fills in gaps in his grandmother’s biography, which we appreciate since that grandmother – Lilo Fürst-Ramdohr – is someone we treasure. And Dr. Igor Khramov’s dedication to Alex Schmorell’s legacy, along with Dr. Armin Ziegler’s commitment to “getting it right”, well, we owe all these people so very much.

And that doesn’t even begin to cover the thank-you’s we owe our community for your participation in this journey.

Let’s take this “award” as a beginning. The next steps for your consideration and discussion:

1) Social media and history – My notes, what I took away from the workshops and keynote luncheon, and how the concepts discussed affect Center for White Rose Studies. What do you think? We’d love your input regarding how social media, usually considered the domain of business and personal applications, can further our understanding of the Holocaust, specifically of Germans who resisted.

2) Curating scholarship – All right, so you’re involved with our project worktables. Let’s come up with some guidelines to drive the projects forward. If we’re working collaboratively, let’s develop the “rules” collaboratively.

3) Making it better – What else can we do to improve our community? Brainstorm with us!

The judges liked our multiple portals to discussions of German resistance during the Shoah. But they commented especially on the project worktables. In case you’re unaware of that aspect of our work:

We are transforming all of our archive projects into collaborative efforts. We will upload primary source materials in English translation. Using WordPress’s dating feature, we “date” each post according to the document date – and hour, if time-stamped. The “categories” will identify each person involved in that resistance movement, so you can easily filter the documents related to a specific individual.

Additionally, each worktable will include the search “widget” so you can search for any concept, fact, or word contained in those primary source documents.

All participants can comment on the documents, or comment on comments. When participants collectively agree that the project has been completed, that all documents have been sufficiently reviewed and understood, and that we have all the necessary and available documents for that archive project, we will convert it into an e-Book and possibly a print version too (depending on demand). The worktable will remain in place as supporting documentation for the published book.

This worktable concept is the logical progression of the old Microsoft Access database that formed the basis for our research process. As I write this, I have to wonder what we’ll be doing in five or ten years, how antiquated these worktables may seem then!

We’re terribly lucky to have all of you involved in our work. You make a difference. Thank you.