Connecting the world to the lands of Jewish heritage

Centropa is a US-registered, Vienna-based NGO committed to preserving Jewish memory in Central and Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union, and the Balkans. Our offices are in Vienna, Budapest, Washington and Jerusalem.  

Between 2000 and 2010, we interviewed 1,200 elderly Jews still living in Central and Eastern Europe, the Balkans, the Baltics, the former Soviet Union, and Israel. Rather than interviewing them on video, we digitized 22,000 family pictures and with audio tape, we asked them to paint for us a picture of the world they were born in, grew up in, and returned to after they survived the Shoah. The interviews have been translated into English. We also have a German website with 100 German-language interviews.

Visit our homepage  and  our database of pictures and stories  for more information.

We use the city as our classroom, and we know that teachers love to learn from each other.

Although Centropa is a Jewish historical institute, we have never concentrated on the Holocaust and we do not see modern European Jewish history in isolation from the world around it.  Professor Salo Baron of Columbia University spoke out against the idea that Jewish history consists solely of suffering and scholarship - what he called the lachrymose theory of Jewish history - and we stand by what Professor Baron says. Which is why, during our summer academies, our teachers read Kafka and visit museums filled with Gustav Klimts. They meet with journalists and historians. And we delve deeply into the great civil society movements that have shaped the second half of the 20th century: the Civil Rights Movement, the Solidarity Movement, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and more recently, the protests in Ukraine on Maidan square.

What makes us different

No one will do what we do over the next decade, because no one did what we did over the past decade.

• We scanned 20,000 family pictures and put them online - each photo is accompanied with its own story. This means we have a wealth of Jewish stories from the 20th century to draw upon;

• There’s no limit to what we can do with these stories: our multimedia films are shown as official selections in international film festivals; we have also published several illustrated books; and our traveling exhibitions are touring Spain, Israel, Poland, Hungary, Austria. Lithuania, Romania and the US;

•Centropa’s stories are ideally suited to new technologies; we’re developing smartphone apps and podcasts; we're active on social media; we are producing QR maps for schools and adult education programs;

•We bring teachers together at seminars like our summer programs. We know that no one teaches a teacher better than another teacher. Our teachers are great at motivating their students to make their own videos, which they now share with each other--across borders and ethnic divides.

What we offer

Centropa  provides you free access to 40 multi-media films based on our interviews. Each film is accompanied by an online study guide.

Need a classroom-tested lesson plan? Go to Centropa Education.

Would you like to host a Centropa exhibition at your school?  We have several exhibitions traveling through five countries. For more information, send an email to office@centropa.org

Who we are

In our home office in Vienna, we are comprised of ten full and part-time employees ranging in age from twenty-three to sixty-five, and we hail from from Austria, Germany, France, the US, Hungary, Brazil, Australia, and Romania. 

Edward Serotta is an American who has worked on Jewish-related projects in Central Europe since 1985. 

Marcell Kenesei is based in Budapest. Marcell is director for our European Jewish school network, as well as our Hungarian public school network.

Dr Lauren Granite is our US education director,  who is based in Washington, DC.

Tanja Eckstein is our chief interviewer for our Austrian and German stories. 

Ouriel Morgensztern is our tech director.

Fabian Ruehle is our EU education director and is based in Berlin. 

Wolfgang Els is our chief filmmaker.

Esther Cotoarba is our education co-ordinator and is in charge of logistics for our annual CSA program.

Birgit Haberpeuntner has been with Centropa since 2009 and helps Esther with logistics

Veronika Doppelreiter is our stalwart bookkeeper.

Marie-Christine Gollner-Schmid is Centropa's graphic designer and is in charge of designing our brochures, reports, books, and exhibitions.

Rachel Suranyi is an education assistant. 

Is Centropa for Americans, Israelis or Europeans? For Jewish or non-Jewish students?

Centropa works for all of us because we tell stories, and stories connect us all.  Not only are students enchanted and drawn into 20th history through these personal narratives, we are creating digital story-telling projects so they can share stories of their towns, their country’s Jewish history, and even their own family stories.