Newsletter No. 27, September 2012
Special Tribute to the Righteous Among the Nations Commission
This year Yad Vashem is marking the landmark anniversary of the Righteous Among the Nations program. On September 4, 2012, Israeli President Shimon Peres honored 50 years of activity of the Commission for the Designation of the Righteous Among the Nations, which has thus far recognized more than 24,300 individuals who selflessly risked their lives to rescue Jews during the Holocaust. In the moving reception for the commission members at the President's Residence, Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev presented the President with a special memento - a commemorative copy of the testimony that Peres' father Yitzhak Perski presented to the Commission in 1965 regarding an English soldier named Charles Coward. Coward aided Perski when they were both being held in a German POW camp in Greece.
Helping Preserve the Authentic Sites of the Holocaust
The Prime Minister of Poland, Donald Tusk, has appointed Chairman of Yad Vashem Avner Shalev, Deputy Chairman of the International Auschwitz Council. The International Auschwitz Council, established by Poland in 2000, is an advisory body of the Prime Minister regarding the preservation and functioning of the Auschwitz site and other Holocaust memorials. The Chairman of the Council is Prof. Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, a Righteous Among the Nations, historian and writer, and former Foreign Minister of Poland. The Council is made up of 21 members who serve six years terms. There are two deputy chairmen, and alongside Shalev, Polish Holocaust historian Dr. Barbara Engelking has been appointed Deputy Chairman of the Council.
Spotlight on the Web
Portraits from the Holocaust
A new online exhibition "Last Portrait: Painting for Posterity" presents some 200 portraits from Yad Vashem's Art Collection that were drawn by 21 artists of varied origins and backgrounds. The artists labored to preserve images of their friends and loved ones for posterity. For many of the subjects, the artists' record of their faces, moments before death, is their final portrait. Each portrait in the exhibition joins together three stories: the artist's, the subject's, and that of the work itself. In addition to the biography of each artist, also noted, wherever possible, are the special circumstances in which the portraits were made and how the artist succeeded in procuring art supplies despite the severe shortages of food and other basic necessities. The exhibition will be on display in Yad Vashem's Exhibitions Pavilion until the beginning of November.
The Story of the Jewish Community in Wurzburg
On the eve of the Nazis' rise to power 2,000 Jews lived in Würzburg, the capital of Lower Franconia about 120km South-East of Frankfurt on the banks of the River Main. It was a community of tradesmen and professionals. It was a rabbinic center and home to many Jewish communal organizations and the Jewish Teachers Seminary. In November 1941, the first Jews from Würzburg were sent to the East. The final transport departed in June 1943. Few survived. As part of the ongoing project "Here their stories will be Told", Yad Vashem recently uploaded a new online exhibition telling the story of the Jewish community of Wurzburg. Through photos, testimonies, documents, and last letters, this moving exhibition depicts the community before WWII, its fate during the Holocaust and the efforts made to commemorate it ever since. This exhibition was created with the support of the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany.
Italian Educators Undergo Training
In September, Italian Minister of Education and Research Francesco Profumo visited Yad Vashem. The minister was accompanied by thirty outstanding Italian high school students who have completed educational projects related to the memory of the Holocaust. During the visit Profumo met with Italian educators who were participating in a teacher-training seminar at Yad Vashem's International School for Holocaust Studies. As part of an agreement that was signed last year by the Israeli and Italian Ministries of Education, each year the Italian Ministry of Education will choose teachers who will undergo training at Yad Vashem's International School and will then teach the subject at high schools in Italy.
Hundreds Attend Memorial Ceremonies
Hundreds of survivors of Ukrainian descent and their families gathered together this past September to mark 71 years since the murders at Babi Yar, when 33,771 Jews were murdered near Kiev. As the German army advanced eastward in the fall of 1941, similar mass murders of Jews took place throughout the region during this period. A special wreath laying ceremony took place at Yad Vashem with the participation of Chairman of the Jewish Agency Natan Sharansky and Ukrainian Ambassador to Israel HE Mr. Hennadii Nadolenko. Also this month survivors gathered for a memorial ceremony for the Lithuanian Jews murdered in the Holocaust. The commemorative event marked 69 years since the liquidation of the Vilna Ghetto. Chairmen of survivor organizations were joined by the Ambassador of Lithuania to Israel who participated in the event along with survivors and their families. On the eve of the Holocaust, the Jewish community of Vilna was the spiritual center of Eastern European Jewry, the hub of enlightenment and Jewish political activity, and the core of Jewish creativity and daily Jewish life. The so-called "Jerusalem of Lithuania," was decimated during WWII, when some 200,000 Jews were murdered, leaving only 2,500 survivors in this once flourishing community.
Begin the new year by submitting Pages of Testimony with the names of Holocaust victims to our Central Database of Shoah Victims' Names and thereby ensure that they will be remembered for posterity. Pages of Testimony are special forms submitted to Yad Vashem by survivors, family members or friends in memory of Jews who perished in the Holocaust. To learn how to fill out a page a testimony, Yad Vashem's Shoah Victims' Names Recovery Project, offers a tutorial on how to assist potential submitters with filling out Pages of Testimony commemorating the names of Holocaust victims for submission to Yad Vashem to be incorporated into the online Central Database of Shoah Victims' Names.
Hitler's Volksgemeinschaft and the Dynamics of Racial Exclusion
Violence against Jews in Provincial Germany, 1919-1939
In the spring of 1933, German society was deeply divided, yet, once Hitler seized power, his creation of a socially inclusive Volksgemeinschaft, promising equality, economic prosperity and the restoration of honor and pride after the humiliating ending of World War I persuaded many Germans to support him and to shut their eyes to dictatorial coercion, concentration camps, secret state police, and the exclusion of large sections of the population. This book offers one of the most comprehensive accounts of this transformation. In association with Berghann Books. To order click here.
Pius XII and the Holocaust
Current State of Research
Editors: David Bankier, Dan Michman, Iael Nidam-Orvieto
Dilemmas, silence, active rescue, and passivity are words often associated with Pius XII. “Critics” emphasize the wartime Pope’s failure to condemn Nazism, while “defenders” maintain that Vatican neutrality facilitated rescue activities by the faithful. This publication, which consists of the oral presentations of scholars gathered at Yad Vashem in March 2009 for a groundbreaking international workshop, attempts to present the current state of research on Pius XII and the Holocaust, based on new documentation. To order click here.
Remembering a Fighter for the Holocaust, in The Jewish Week
Holocaust Museums in Israel Evolve, in The New York Times
At Sobibor concentration camp, archaeologists unearth hidden horrors of the Nazi era, in The Globe and Mail
Trove of everyday items reveals Lithuania's dark Holocaust secret, in Haaretz
Yad Vashem to scan documents on Dutch Righteous among the Nations, on JTA
Yad Vashem to honour French Righteous Gentile in posthumous ceremony, on EJP
With Your Support
Yizkor - Help Yad Vashem Preserve the Memory of Each and Every Shoah Victim
The Nazis attempted not only to destroy the Jewish people as a whole, but to obliterate the identity and memory of each and every Jew. Since its inception, Yad Vashem has been fulfilling its mandate to preserve the memory of the Holocaust victims by collecting their names and preserving them in an eternal memorial.
The Shoah Victims' Names Recovery Project has already had a worldwide impact, with millions of visitors to the online Central Database of Shoah Victims' Names from hundreds of countries. Some have reconnected with the past; others have discovered relatives they did not know of. Many have simply been overwhelmed by the experience of "meeting the victims" and seeing their identities returned to them.
Yad Vashem is in a race against time to collect and register as many names as possible before the generation with this information is gone. As we remember our loved ones during the Holidays, Yad Vashem calls upon you to support our mission to keep alive the memory of all the individuals, the families and the communities that were lost in the Shoah.
To learn more about supporting this important initiative, please contact the International Relations Department.
For assistance in filling out Pages of Testimony contact: firstname.lastname@example.org