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Remembrance

Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day 2011

Fragments of Memory: The Faces behind the Documents, Artifacts and Photographs

"Unto Every Person There is a Name"

Letter from the International Committee, Unto Every Person There Is A Name

Yom Hashoah – Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day
2 May 2011 – 28 Nissan 5771

Introduction

Six million Jews, among them one-and-a-half million children, were murdered in the Shoah while the world remained silent. The worldwide Holocaust memorial project “Unto Every Person There is a Name”, now in its twenty-second consecutive year, is a unique project designed to perpetuate their memory as individuals and restore their identity and dignity, through the public recitation of their names on Yom Hashoah – Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day. By personalizing the individual tragedies of the Jewish victims of Nazi Germany and its collaborators, this project counters persistent efforts by enemies of the State of Israel and the Jewish people to deny the reality of the Holocaust and cast it as history’s seminal hoax. “Unto Every Person” also defies attempts to universalize this genocide and cast off its principal characteristic as a unique calamity of the Jewish people, while also building appreciation of the Shoah's tragic impact on the Jewish reality until today.

A World-Wide Effort

“Unto Every Person There Is A Name” is conducted around the world in hundreds of Jewish communities through the efforts of four major Jewish organizations: B’nai B’rith International, Nativ, the World Jewish Congress and the World Zionist Organization.

The project is coordinated by Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority, in consultation with the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs and enjoys the official auspices of President of the State of Israel, the Hon. Shimon Peres (see Chairman’s letter, Annex I).

In Israel, “Unto Every Person There Is A Name” has become an integral part of the official Yom Hashoah commemoration ceremonies, with the central events held at the Knesset and at Yad Vashem with the participation of elected officials, as well as events throughout the country.

Personalizing the Holocaust

The International Committee of “Unto Every Person There is A Name” takes pride in the fact that its raison d’être – advocating the personalization of the Jewish tragedy – has gained wide recognition in Israel and around the Jewish world as hundreds of Jewish communities now participate in this project. As time passes and fewer witnesses remain, it is of great importance to create a personal link between the Jewish people today and those who perished under the Nazi genocidal regime. Ceremonies in which names of Holocaust victims are recited together with such information as age, place of birth and place of death, personalize the tragedy of the Holocaust. Emphasis is thus put on the millions of individuals – men, women and children who were lost to the Jewish people and not solely on the cold intangibility embodied in the term “The Six Million”.

“Fragments of Memory”: The Faces Behind the Documents, Artifacts and Photographs -
Central theme for Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day 5771

During the Shoah, an entire universe was shattered and dispersed in myriad directions.  The remaining, scattered fragments vary infinitely in size, shape and texture – from documents to diaries, testimonies to artifacts, photographs to works of art. Despite their wide dispersion, they can still be found in many places – sites of discrimination and murder, government and private archives, and even in the attics and cellars of families who went through the vortex of the Shoah.

Each fragment tells its own tale and, like a thread, has a beginning and an end.  These threads of information, intersecting and combining, are then woven together into a broad and deep tapestry that depicts a multifaceted story stretching over time and space. In this way we can reconstruct as much of the shattered universe as possible, the events that led to its destruction, and the lives that continued to be lived while the devastation unfolded. It is our fundamental mission to gather together as many of the pieces as we can.

Especially now, as the generation of survivors dwindles, it is of paramount importance that we dedicate ourselves to continuing the process of gathering the fragments and putting them into context.  The tools of the 21st century – the internet, digitization and international cooperation – offer much hope that we will enrich and expand our portrait of events. 

A Milestone in Holocaust Commemoration

Yad Vashem - Israel's Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority - has succeeded in identifying two-thirds of the Jews murdered in the Holocaust - 4 million names. Yad Vashem continues to call upon the public to continue to recover names of victims that have not been recorded both by collecting Pages of Testimony, filled out in memory of the victims by people who remember them, and by digitizing archival lists and documentation for names.

Of the 4 million names currently known, some 2.2 million come from Pages of Testimony and the remainder from various archival sources and postwar commemoration projects.  While in Western Europe in particular there were often lists kept of the Jews and deportation, making identification easier, in countries of Eastern Europe and the areas of the former Soviet Union, much information was still lacking. During the last five years, Yad Vashem concentrated its efforts in name recovery in areas where most of the names were unknown, including Eastern Europe, the FSU and Greece and great progress has been made.

The entire online Names Database, where one may access the victims’ brief histories and, when available, photographs, and submit additional names, is available in English, Hebrew and Russian. Millions of victims’ names are still missing, it is incumbent upon us today, to recover them before the generation that remembers is no longer with us.

“Unto Every Person There is a Name” events provide a unique opportunity to continue the quest to collect the names of all the Jews who perished in the Holocaust, and should be utilized to call upon members of your community to complete a “Page of Testimony” for each unregistered victim, or to volunteer to assist others with this urgent task.

An Opportunity for Reflection

While Yom Hashoah focuses our attention each year on the victims of the Holocaust, it also inherently provides an opportunity for us to reflect on contemporary forms of antisemitism and recommit ourselves to counter them.

While 2010 experienced a slight decrease in the number of anti-Semitic incidents around the world and in their severity (in comparison to 2009 which was a record year in reaction to operation Cast Lead), the general trend over the past decade has been increased recurrence and severity compared to the level of the 1990’s, expressed in propaganda and anti-Semitic incitement, spray painting of swastikas and hate slogans, physical violence against Jews, attacks against Jewish institutions and facilities, damaging of tombstones, inflammatory political statements and attempts at terror attacks. 

At the same time, 2010 saw an increase in organized activity aimed at delegitimizing Israel as a Jewish state.  Indeed, the blurring of the demarcation between legitimate criticism of the State of Israel and demonizing it turned in 2010 into a major strategic threat not only to the State of Israel but also to Jewish communities around the world.  These activities were led by anti-Semitic, Palestinian and extreme-Left organizations, most vociferously in connection to the Turkish flotilla in May 2010.

These trends emerge from the 2010 annual report issued in January by the Coordination Forum for Countering Anti-Semitism in Israel.

Recitation ceremony planning recommendations

1. Outreach: The International Committee urges organizers of “Unto Every Person” ceremonies to invite all Jewish organizations and institutions in their community, including schools, synagogues of the various streams and community centers, and Israeli diplomatic representatives, to take an active part in the name recitation ceremonies and in the Names Recovery Campaign. The Committee specifically requests that the four sponsoring organizations be actively engaged in each ceremony and that all local agencies cooperate to make the ceremony as inclusive and meaningful as possible. The Committee also recommends that non-Jewish groups and leaders in the larger community be invited to participate in the recitation ceremonies, which can be held in an appropriate public setting.

2. Press: Local and national media, especially television, should be encouraged to cover the ceremonies. Any visual products from the ceremony should be sent to Yad Vashem in order to be archived and exhibited in the future.

3. Family names retrieval: We urge you to encourage members of your community to search for names of relatives and friends who were victims of the Holocaust, to compile your own personal and local lists of names and family members for commemoration, and to submit names to Yad Vashem's Database (see above).

4. Names recovery campaign: Should you choose to utilize the ceremony to kick-off a names recovery campaign, please refer to Yad Vashem’s Community Outreach Guide for new resources. Packed with tips and materials, including short movie clips and print-quality files of promotional materials, this resource will enable Jewish communities and educators to plan and implement meaningful programs, names collection events and related activities around Yom Hashoah and throughout the year. 

5. Ceremony requirements: The recitation ceremonies require coordination and planning but involve very little expenditure. Basic requirements for the ceremony are:

  • Poem “Unto Every Person There Is A Name” by Israeli poet Zelda (Annex V)
  • Lists of names
  • Pages of Testimony
  • Yizkor and El Maleh Rahamim prayer texts (available in Hebrew)
  • Six Yizkor candles
  • A sound system
  • Professional-standard video equipment.
  • A table or podium covered in black
  • Sufficient volunteers to recite names
  • Master of Ceremonies

6. Central Ceremony at Yad Vashem: The central state ceremony marking the beginning of Yom Hashoah will take place at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem on Sunday, May 1 at 20:00 (8 p.m.) Israel time. The ceremony is broadcast live on Israel’s Channel One, accessible via the internet, which might allow you to incorporate it into your own ceremony. Furthermore, the ceremony will be available on-line on the Yad Vashem website within 2 hours after it concludes. The recording could be utilized as an element in your own ceremony.

We are available to answer any questions that might arise and provide additional material as necessary to ensure the success of your event.

Sincerely,
Members of the “Unto Every Person There Is A Name” International Committee:
Rachel Barkai, Alexander Avraham (Yad Vashem); Alan Schneider (B’nai B’rith International); Hannah Kimchi (World Jewish Congress); Naftaly Levy (World Zionist Organization); Amit Gil Bayaz (Israel Foreign Ministry); Ritta Tarlow (Nativ).
Project Initiator: Haim Roet

Referents: Yad Vashem
Rachel Barkai, Commemoration and Public Relations; Ossi Kupfer, Project Coordinator; Alexander Avraham, Hall of Names
POB 3477, Jerusalem 9103401, Israel
Tel. (972)-2-6443574; Fax (972)-2-6433569 ; general.information@yadvashem.org.il, www.yadvashem.org

For more information about the Shoah Victims' Names Recovery Project contact:
Cynthia Wroclawski, Manager
The Shoah Victims' Names Recovery Project
Yad Vashem, POB 3477
Jerusalem, 9103401 ISRAEL
Tel: 972-2-644-3470
cynthia.wroclawski@yadvashem.org.il

For North America
Rhonda Love
B’nai B’rith International Center for Programming
801 Second Avenue, 14th Floor, New York,  NY  10017
Tel: (212)-490-3290; Fax: (212)-687-3429
Rlove@bnaibrith.org

For Eastern Europe
Hannah Kimchi
World Jewish Congress
POB 4293, Jerusalem 91042, Israel
Tel: (972)–2-6333000 Fax. (972)-2-633 3011
hana@wjc.co.il

For Western Europe, Latin America, Australia
Naftaly Levy
WZO Department for Zionist Activities
POB 92, Jerusalem, Israel
Tel: (972)-2-6202262; Fax (972)-2-6204099
naftalil@wzo.org.il

For the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Amit Gil Bayaz, Department for Antisemitism and Holocaust Issues
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Jerusalem, Israel
Tel: (972)-2-5303865; Fax: (972)-2-5303159
amitb@mfa.gov.il

For the Former Soviet Union
Ritta Tarlow
Nativ
8 Hamelacha St., POB 21609
Tel Aviv 67251, Israel
Tel: (972) 3 5639730; Fax: (972) 3 5614223
rittat@nativ.gov.il

Annex I
Message from the Chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate Avner Shalev

Jerusalem, Adar 5771, March 2011

“Unto every person there is a name given to him by God and given to him by his parents”, wrote the Israeli poetess Zelda.  Every single victim of the Holocaust had a name. The vast number of Jews who perished in the Holocaust - six million - is beyond human comprehension. We are therefore liable to lose sight of the fact that each life that was snuffed out belonged to an individual with a past, a present and promise of a future, a human being endowed with feelings, thoughts, ideas and dreams. The annual recitation of names of victims on Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day is one way of posthumously restoring the victims’ names, of commemorating them as persons, as individuals.  We seek in this manner to honor the memory of the victims, to grapple with the enormity of the tragedy, and to combat Holocaust denial.  

This year marks the 22nd anniversary of the global Holocaust memorial initiative “Unto Every Person There Is A Name”, conducted under the auspices of the President of the State of Israel.  In addition to the name recitation ceremonies held all over Israel in schools, universities, youth movements, memorial institutions and workplaces, the project aims to reach out to as many overseas communities and institutions as possible.  With this in mind, we are sending you the attached materials, in the hope that you will join us in this essential mission, and hold a name-reading ceremony on Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day. 

This year’s theme is “Fragments of Memory:  The Faces Behind the Documents, Artifacts and Photographs”.

Since its inception, Yad Vashem has striven to collect every relevant source of information, each of which enlightens us in its own unique way about the six million Jews murdered and the millions more persecuted during the Holocaust. Especially now, it is vital that we dedicate ourselves to continuing the process of gathering the fragments and putting them into context. Contemporary means, such as  computerized digitization, offer  hope that we will enrich and expand our portrait of Holocaust-related events.

Seventy years after the advent of the systematic mass murder of the Jews, it is imperative that these complex annals – and the insights we draw from them – remain in constant view. Yad Vashem continues to do its utmost to inform the world about the Shoah, and teach about its critical relevance to all mankind. The more we further our knowledge of the Holocaust and keep it in our consciousness, the more chance we have of bequeathing a better world to future generations.

The attached materials include texts and readings that can be incorporated into your ceremony.   

To date, 4 million names of Holocaust victims have been recorded in Yad Vashem’s online Central Database of Shoah Victims’ Names, with over 2 million of them taken from our Pages of Testimony. These Pages are submitted by relatives and friends who knew the victims, and serve as symbolic epitaphs, preserving their memory.  You can assist in our ongoing collection campaign by copying and distributing Pages of Testimony, or by submitting them online through our website: www.yadvashem.org

As the years pass, and the generation of survivors dwindles, the second and third generations must do everything possible to perpetuate the memory of the Holocaust’s victims.  By reciting their names, ages and places of death, we keep their memory alive, and remind ourselves that each man, woman and child was, and is, an entire world.

Sincerely,

Avner Shalev,
Chairman
Yad Vashem Directorate

Annex II

Fragments of Memory
The Faces behind the Documents, Artifacts and Photographs
The Central Theme for Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day 2011
Dr. Robert Rozett

"I bought this prayer book in Auschwitz for a portion of my daily bread ration. It accompanied me through the entire torturous journey in the death and concentration camps in Germany. I donate this prayer book today to Yad Vashem – as a reminder to future generations."
Holocaust survivor Zvi Kopolovich

During the Shoah, an entire universe was shattered and dispersed in myriad directions. The remaining scattered fragments vary infinitely in size, shape and texture – from documents to diaries, testimonies to artifacts, photographs to works of art. Despite their wide dispersion, they can still be found in many places – government and private archives, libraries, and even in the attics and cellars of families who went through the vortex of the Shoah.

Each fragment tells its own tale and, like a thread, has a beginning and an end. These threads of information, intersecting and combining, are then woven together into a broad and deep tapestry that depicts a multifaceted story stretching over time and space. In this way we can reconstruct as much of the shattered Jewish world as possible, the events that led to its destruction, and the lives that continued to be lived while the devastation unfolded. It is our fundamental mission to gather together as many of the pieces as we can.

Since its inception, Yad Vashem has striven to collect every relevant source of information, each of which enlightens us in its own unique way about the six million Jews murdered and the millions more persecuted and victimized during the Holocaust. Yet some shards remain concealed, locked in the memories of those who were there, still waiting to be expressed in word or art. Especially now, as the generation of survivors dwindles, it is of paramount importance that we dedicate ourselves to continuing the process of gathering the fragments and putting them into context. The tools of the 21st century – the internet, digitization and international cooperation – offer much hope that we will enrich and expand our portrait of events.

Seventy years after the advent of the systematic mass murder of the Jews and the coalescence of the Final Solution, it is vital that the enriched tapestry – and the insights we draw from it – remain in constant view. Through its physical and virtual exhibits, publications, educational programs and research efforts, Yad Vashem continues to do its utmost to inform the world about the Shoah, its antecedents and repercussions, and teach about its urgent relevance to all mankind. The more we further our knowledge of the Holocaust and keep it in our consciousness, the better chance we have of molding a world frvidee from prejudice, hatred and crimes against humanity.

The author is Director of the Yad Vashem Libraries.

Annex III

Expanded Global Activity To Recover Names of Shoah Victims
Join Yad Vashem’s global Shoah Victims’ Names Recovery Project  and help distribute Pages of Testimony at names recitation ceremonies on Yom Hashoah. 

We invite you to view our Pages of Testimony Tutorial Video, which we created to demonstrate how to help survivors and others from their generation to fill out Pages of Testimony and memorialize Jews they know of who perished in the Holocaust. The video presents a volunteer visiting with two women in their homes to assist them in recalling and recording the names of Shoah victims on Pages of Testimony. The video is ideal for screening at volunteer training sessions or to provide tips and insight for individuals wishing to embark on this project.

In addition we urge you to make use of a variety of online resources designed to enhance your outreach efforts and help you plan and implement your Names Recovery campaign. Packed with tips and materials, short movie clips and print-quality files of promotional materials, our community outreach guide will enable Jewish communities and educators to plan and implement meaningful memorial programs, names collection events and related activities around Yom Hashoah and throughout the year. 

Promotional posters are available in English, Hebrew or Russian. Display the posters together with Pages of Testimony (available in a number of languages on the Yad Vashem website) to advertise the ongoing campaign to collect Holocaust victims’ names. To order please send your name, mailing address and phone number, stating how many you require to: names.proj@yadvashem.org.il with subject header: “Materials Order.”

Conditions permitting, you may screen the video of the heartwarming story (available on the online Community Outreach Guide) of Hilda Glasberg, who after a lifetime of believing that most of her immediate family had perished in the Holocaust, was reunited with her brother Simon Glasberg after 65 years. The reunion took place after Hilda’s grandchildren searched The Central Database of Shoah Victims’ Names in an effort to piece together the puzzle of their family’s fate.

Educators may make use of the "The Stories Behind the Names", lesson plans that utilize pictures and information from Pages of Testimony, to teach about the people and communities the Nazis destroyed.  The material is geared to varying age groups and focuses on the meaning and importance of commemoration through Pages of Testimony, as well as the practical aspects of collecting and completing them.

Video for Memorial Names Recitation Ceremony
We invite you to make use of this short video and accompanying text for a memorial names recitation ceremony.

New Documentary Film on Mass Destruction of Jewry in the Former Soviet Union
You are invited to view a new documentary film entitled: Tolka- A Conversation With Dr. Yitzchak Arad produced by Boris Maftsir, Manager of the Shoah Victims' Names Recovery Project in the Occupied Territories of the Former Soviet Union

The Russian language film available with English or Hebrew subtitles features renowned Historian Dr. Yitzchak Arad, who presents an overview of the mass destruction of the Jews in the Former Soviet Union by the Nazis and their collaborators following the attack of Facist Germany on the Soviet Union on June 22 1941.

During the discussion Yizchak Rodinski (Arad) shares memories of his childhood in Poland and Lithuania and his activities in the Partisan movement and talks about the reasons that led him to research the Holocaust in the Former Soviet Union.
To order copies of the films on DVD please contact names.proj@yadvashem.org.il

Annex IV

In France and Austria, demonstrations related to the flotilla turned violent against the Jewish community:  in France there were 15 violent attacks, including one against a young Jew in the Paris subway, stones thrown at the Chabad emissary and Molotov cocktails hurled at a Jewish old age home; in Austria, there were 17 attacks, 5 of them violent.

Other 2010 trends based on the CFCA report:
- Surveys carried out in Europe show that a third of the continent’s population holds negative opinions towards Jews and that people allow themselves, more than in the past, to express themselves publicly against Jews.  This is despite the ongoing efforts to combat anti-Semitism undertaken in many European countries. While a very small segment of the population carries out the violent anti-Semitic acts, these surveys indicate that ever-growing segments of the population support them.

- The report also shows that Muslims continue to pose a danger to Jewish communities around the world. Physical attacks against Jews and Jewish facilities are carried out on a daily basis by Muslims, mainly in Western Europe. A few of the incidents in 2010 that stand out:  terror attacks thwarted in the U.S., India and Turkey and successful bomb attacks against Jewish institutions in Kyrgyzstan, Egypt, France, Germany and Belgium.  Anti-Semitic incidents were also seen in Sweden where the synagogue in Malmo become a target for repeated attacks.

- One trend that was on the rise in 2010 is the use of Nazi ideology by extreme Islamic elements.  In addition to Holocaust denial, which has been a feature for some time among Islamists, this year saw the propagation of the idea of the Holocaust as a phenomenon to be imitated. Through this, the portrayal of the Holocaust as a series of incidents in which European Jews are murdered for their crimes becomes legitimate parlance in Arab circles.

- Another phenomenon that gained momentum in 2010 is the “modern blood libel” in which Israel is accused of harvesting organs from Palestinians.  This year, the blood libel - that began in 2009 in Sweden - found expression in Ukraine, Algeria, Haiti, Kosovo and the Maldives where a delegation of Israeli ophthalmologists that went to help the local population met with demonstrations, flag burnings and calls for their expulsion from the country.

- Iran continues to be a center for the propagation of Anti-Semitism:  the Iranian regime continues to see anti-Semitism as a strategic weapon against Israel, guiding various groups towards anti-Israel and anti-Semitic activity, mainly in Europe and Latin America.  Besides activity with the extreme-Left and Islamic organizations, this year there was a marked increase in Iran’s links with organizations on the extreme right, including neo-Nazis in Hungary, Greece, France and Chile, where a neo-Nazi group caught trying to carry out a violent act against Jews was found to be working under Iran’s direction.

- Also seen this year was a rise in the strength of the extreme Right in Germany, Austria, Greece, Sweden and Hungary, where the JOBBIK party won 47 parliamentary seats out of 386.  In Slavic countries of the CIS there was this year the same low number of anti-Semitic incidents as in the recent past.   The situation of Jewish communities in the Muslim countries of the CIS continues to be a sensitive one, dependent on the stability of the secular regimes. Thus, for example, in response to the political turnaround in Kyrgyzstan, anti-Semitic feelings were aroused and a bomb was launched at the synagogue building in Bishkek during the High Holy Days and anti-Jewish slogans were painted on the synagogue walls.

Annex V

Everyone has a name

Everyone has a name
given to him by God
and given to him by his parents
Everyone has a name
given to him by his stature
and the way he smiles
and given to him by his clothing
Everyone has a name
given to him by the mountains
and given to him by the walls
Everyone has a name
given to him by the stars
and given to him by his neighbors
Everyone has a name
given to him by his sins
and given to him by his longing
Everyone has a name
given to him by his enemies
and given to him by his love
Everyone has a name
given to him by his holidays
and given to him by his work
Everyone has a name
given to him by the seasons
and given to him by his blindness
Everyone has a name
given to him by the sea and
given to him
by his death.

Zelda