Sarah Hadry (Bayrisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Germany)
Loss of information means loss of knowledge. World War II led to the destruction and loss of cultural property on a large scale. One result of this disaster was the "Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict" of 1954. This international treaty targets two aims. One is to protect cultural property in case of war. The other is to take appropriate preventive measures in times of peace. In Germany, which joined the Convention only in 1967, the federal Microfilming-program is the chosen preventive measure for archival information.
Why do we still use a technique which was developed in the first half of the 20th century? The reason is that the microfilm offers characteristics which are unrivalled as well as irreplaceable to the present day. Its main benefits are these: 1. Best persistence & low costs: When produced, handled and stored properly, microfilms will be stable and tenable for many generations – at least for 500 years. This unconquerable durability can be achieved without creating notable costs. The recorded data stays valid and legible without any further actions like migration, conversion, struggling against compatibility issues etc. 2. High degree of independence: Future users of the recorded data do not depend on the availability of any software or hardware which is absolutely crucial in the long run. If necessary, all data is immediately accessible by using a magnifying glass and a simple source of light (like candle or torch). 3. Accuracy, integrity & completeness: A film can hardly get hacked or manipulated – at least not unnoticed. This means: Further generations will find unspoiled information which enables them to get their own ideas and draw their own conclusions about past times.