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Center for Digital Systems (CeDiS)

CeDiS is the competence center for E-Learning, E-Research and Multimedia at Freie Universität Berlin, headed by Prof. Dr. Nicolas Apostolopoulos.

The Center for Digital Systems at Freie Universität Berlin (CeDiS) assists the university’s departments and institutions with consultancy services, central systems as well as customized solutions on all aspects related to technology-enhanced teaching and research. In various third-party funded projects, CeDiS has cooperated with internal and external partners in different fields of E-Research and E-Learning.

Since 2006, CeDiS has hosted and enhanced three major collections with testimonies focusing on Nazi Forced Labor and the Holocaust. The Visual History Archive of the USC Shoah Foundation, the Online Archive “Zwangsarbeit 1939-1945”, and the Oral-History-Collection “Refugee Voices” contain tens of thousands of audiovisual life-story interviews. Currently, a new collection about the German occupation of Greece is being created.

CeDiS has developed online platforms, not only to manage large digital archives with audiovisual interviews, but also to create user-friendly access to related historical source material. The online platforms include sophisticated mapping, searching and annotating tools for collaborative research.

For educational use, CeDiS has developed award-winning learning materials for teaching with testimonies in schools as DVDs ("Zeitzeugen-Interviews für den Unterricht" and "Zeugen der Shoah").Currently, online learning environments on Forced Labor are being prepared for schools in a German, a Czech and (from 2017) a Russian version.

Additionally, historians and educators at CeDiS are engaged in academic debates on oral history, memory culture and Holocaust education, as well as forging strong links with memorial museums and experts in didactics. Recent projects focus on multilingualism (e.g. a Russian/English and German version of the online archive “Forced Labor 1939-1945”), on locality (e.g. the use of testimonies in preparing a visit to memorials), and on mobility (e.g. concepts for working with testimonies on mobile devices).

Another CeDiS E-Research project uses semantic technology for building the online encyclopedia “1914-1918 online” of the First World War.

Over the last five years, CeDiS has intensified its international activities in creating a network of experts in the field of Digital Humanities related to audiovisual testimony collections. The specific research has focused on methods and technologies for preparing, indexing and enhancing large-scale interview collections as well as conceiving and realizing educational material. It has prepared or participated in various international conferences, amongst them “Erinnern an Zwangsarbeit” (Berlin, October 2012), “Preserving Survivors Memories” (Berlin, November 2012) and “Digital Testimonies on War and Trauma” (Rotterdam, June 2013).


  • Pagenstecher, Cord: Mapping Testimonies. The Interview Archive ‘Forced Labor 1939-1945’, in: Airing the Past. Inquiries into Digital Memories, ed. by Nuria Rodríguez Ortega, Fátima Díez-Platas and Seppo Kuivakari, Oxford: Inter-Disciplinary Press 2016, 25-34
  • Tausendfreund, Doris/ Leh, Almut, Archiving Audio and Video Interviews, in: Carlos Nunes Silva (Ed.): Online Research Methods in Urban and Planning Studies: Design and Outcomes, Hershey (PA, USA) 2011
  • Rietema, Jan, Remembering Forced Labour. A Digital Interview Archive, in: European Holocaust Research Infrastructure (EHRI) Newsletter, Second Issue, April 2013
  • Apostolopoulos, Nicolas/ Pagenstecher, Cord (Hrsg.), Erinnern an Zwangsarbeit. Zeitzeugen-Interviews in der digitalen Welt, Berlin 2013

CeDiS Website