The word RESCAPE is made up of the words Return and Escape denoting the fact that the project consists of two equally important, diversely accentuated supplementary parts. Both parts focus on the historical period of forced migration (1938-1956), hence the Shoah, the liberation, and the expulsion during the Communist dictatorship, however approaching it from different perspectives. In the so-called Return project homecoming, the difficult geographical and emotional way back home, becomes the central topic of analysis, while the Escape project documents the dramatic story of survivors who escaped persecution in the cataclysm of the twentieth century in Hungary.

We shall note that although there are plenty of projects conducted on the historical period of forced migration (1938-1956), most of them focus on general political history and less on personal experiences. We believe that, beside facts and figures, personal memories and stories could contribute to deepen our knowledge on deportation, extermination and expulsion and provide a better understanding of our past, which affects our conceptions of present and past at the same time. In other words, we make the present by remembering the past; which thus serves as a point of departure for new decisions and actions.

In this project personal life stories demonstrate "histories” instead of "history”, the heterogeneity of lived experiences. They show that people coming from various ethnic, social and gender backgrounds recall diverse, sometimes even contradictory, memories on concentration camps or forced labor, and interpret differently the notion of home, the idea of the nation, the ideology of Communism, or the principles of morality.

As for the materials used, biographical interview collections of the Voices of the 20th Century Archive – interviews with Hungarian Survivors of the Mauthausen concentration camp, former forced laborers from Hungary and Slovakia, and émigrés of 1944-1956 – constitute the backbone of the RESCAPE project.

Considering the methodology, life story interviews are analyzed using biographical analysis and mixed text analysis. This technique combines objective hermeneutics with methods of narration analysis, and makes it possible to analyze the intersections between experienced and narrated life, or between the institutional and individual aspects of reality, within the context of one’s biography.

Besides preserving and processing materials and providing the opportunity for historical and political research, our aim is to offer methodological tools for analysis and to contribute to the dissemination of information and teaching about these historical periods. That is to say, with the rich bilingual material developed in the project, teachers in Hungary and abroad will have an effective tool in their hands to commemorate the victims of Nazism and Communism in their own schools and communities. Furthermore, pupils and students are provided with rich sources to discuss about the events, experiences and lessons of WWII that eventually led to both the founding of the European Community and the establishment of totalitarian regimes.

As a consequence of the above, this website is intended to contribute to the commemoration of the victims of Nazism and Stalinism by the interested public. It also helps future research and educational projects by providing sources and pedagogical materials to enhance reflections on the causes and consequences of Nazism and Communism. Finally, it provides opportunities domestically and internationally for cooperation among organizations active in this field of action.

The project was initiated by the Voices of the 20th Century Archive (Institute of Sociology, Hungarian Academy of Sciences) in cooperation with the following institutions and scientific networks: Mauthausen Memorial (Vienna), Karta Foundation (Warsaw), Visual History Archive (Berlin), Dokumenta (Zagreb), Memorial (Russia), HAVER Informal Jewish Educational Public Benefit FoundationStudent Organisation of Social SciencesAssociation of Hungarian History Teachers and the Department of Community and Media Studies, University of Pécs. The RESCAPE project is financed by the EACEA ‘Europe for Citizens’ Programme. Special thanks to Tímea Baumann, György Németh and István Vörös.


Project staff:

habil. Dr. Éva Kovács, project leader

CsC. Tímea Tibori, project coordinator

Prof. Dr. György Csepeli, expert

Prof. Dr. Antal Örkény, expert

Gárdos Judit, edition, digitization

Anna Lujza Szász, translation, web design

Dr. Zsuzsa Vidra, project manager

Dr. Máté Zombory, education, edition