Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day 2011
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 free from prejudice, hatred and crimes against humanity.
The author is Director of the Yad Vashem Libraries