The Useless Archive

The Useless Archive is an as yet unfulfilled project to digitally replace the estimated five million Lithuanian Jewish family photographs that were destroyed during the Holocaust [1] with a corresponding number of images that left Lithuania with their emigrating families in the decades leading up to Second World War. Click on the link at the bottom of the page from more information.

[1] As part of Nazi Germany’s ‘spiritual battle against Jews and other opponents of National Socialism’ that swept through Europe and North Africa between January 30, 1933 and May 8, 1945, the regime's various ‘ownerless property’ laws provided both the legal right and the ideological justification for the mass looting of hundreds of millions of cultural artefacts and everyday items throughout Nazi Germany and the countries that it occupied during the Second World War. Considered completely useless by the miscellaneous plunderers, family photographs were one of a tiny handful of Jewish possessions that were lost forever during the carnage. Although estimating the precise number of Lithuanian Jewish family photographs that were destroyed is an impossible task, five million seems to be a reasonable figure. This number is based on the assumption that approximately half of the 100,000 or so Lithuanian Jews who were living in Lithuania in June 1941 owned at least one family photo album, and that each of these albums contained an average of 100 photographs.