Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day 2012
My Brother's Keeper: Jewish Solidarity During the Holocaust
"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
19 April 2012 – 27 Nissan 5772
As the Shoah recedes further into history, institutions involved in Holocaust commemoration have encountered a fascinating counter-intuitive phenomenon – increased interest in the Holocaust from groups of all backgrounds and ages. New areas of research and interest are constantly coming to the fore. Modern technology has played an important part in making knowledge about the Holocaust more accessible, but has also provided a vehicle for the mainstreaming of new forms of antisemitism – some poorly disguised as anti-Zionism. Still, the most fundamental feature of the Shoah is the systematic murder of six million innocent Jews by the Nazis and their collaborators for the sole reason that they had the misfortune to be born Jewish. Each of their deaths was a separate, distinct tragedy that together has caused indelible trauma to the Jewish People.
The worldwide Holocaust memorial project “Unto Every Person There is a Name”, now in its twenty-third consecutive year, is a unique project designed to perpetuate the memory of the six million, among them one-and-a-half million children, while the world remained silent. We seek to remember them not only as a collective, but rather as individuals – one at a time - through the public recitation of their names on Yom Hashoah – Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day and thus help to restore their identity and dignity. 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 deny the Holocaust, 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 this very day.
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 President’s letter, Attachment 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”.
“My Brother's Keeper: Jewish Solidarity During the Holocaust" -
Central theme for Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day 5772
Documents and testimonies from the Shoah indicate that within this impossible reality into which Jews were thrust, mutual help and a commitment to the other were actually quite common, and were manifested in varied and surprising ways: members of larger communities taking in refugees from smaller ones; youth movement members who opened communal kitchens and fed the hungry; educators who clandestinely taught children and youth both secular and Jewish teachings; partisans who opened their bases to women and the elderly and protected them; former townspeople who shared the little they managed to get their hands on in the camps; people who collected and distributed food, clothing and religious articles in the ghettos; families who adopted orphaned children. All of these examples indicate that the individual had little chance of survival without the sense of togetherness, and that this Jewish unity – such as the exhausted concentration camp inmate who was held up by two strangers on either side during a selektion – is what carried people and helped them endure another day.
A Milestone in Holocaust Commemoration
Yad Vashem - Israel's Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority - has succeeded in identifying around two-thirds of the Jews murdered in the Holocaust – over 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 2.6 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 names 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. (See Attachment III for further details.)
An Opportunity for Reflection
While Yom Hashoah focuses our attention each year on the victims of the Holocaust, it also inherently provides an annual opportunity for us to reflect on contemporary forms of antisemitism and recommit ourselves to counter them.
According to two reports released by the government of Israel in January, the high number of antisemitic incidents recorded in recent years – including violent events - was maintained in 2011 despite the absence of an Israel/Arab or Israel/Palestinian "trigger". Antisemitism was expressed in different forms including incitement, propaganda, demonstrations, desecration of sites and physical violence, providing clear evidence that antisemitism remains a global problem with dangerous ramifications. Antisemitism continues to cross geographic, ideological, political, social and cultural borders and is most prevalent among Moslems, the radical Right and the radical Left – although according to these reports, antisemitism seems to have taken root in 2011 also in the Center. Evidence of this can be found in the statements of public figures such as designer John Galliano and director Lars von Trier in support of Hitler.
(For further information on contemporary antisemitism please see Attachment IV)
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 (Attachment 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 Wednesday, April 18 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.
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); Dr. Lawrence Weinbaum (World Jewish Congress); Naftaly Levy (World Zionist Organization); Amb. Gideon Behar (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 91034, Israel
Tel. (972)-2-6443574; Fax (972)-2-6443569 ; firstname.lastname@example.org, 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, 91034 ISRAEL
For North America
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
For Eastern Europe
Dr. Lawrence Weinbaum
World Jewish Congress
POB 4293, Jerusalem 91042, Israel
Tel: (972)–2-6333006 Fax. (972)-2-633 3011
For Western Europe, Latin America, Australia
WZO Department for Zionist Activities
POB 92, Jerusalem, Israel
Tel: (972)-2-6202262; Fax (972)-2-6204099
For the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Ambassador Gideon Behar, Director, Department for Combating Antisemitism Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Jerusalem, Israel
Tel: (972)-2-5303696; Fax: (972)-2-5303159
For the Former Soviet Union
8 Hamelacha St., POB 21609
Tel Aviv 67251, Israel
Tel: (972) 3 5639730; Fax: (972) 3 5614223
Message from the President Shimon Peres
To read the letter click here.
Message from the Chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate Avner Shalev
Jerusalem, Adar 5772, February 2012
Unto Every Person There Is A Name
Public Recitation of Names of Holocaust Victims in Israel and Abroad on Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day
“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 brutally erased 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 and distortion.
This year marks the 23rd 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 name recitation ceremonies conducted 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.
The theme of this year’s observances is “My Brother’s Keeper: Jewish Solidarity During the Holocaust”.
Despite the impossible situation the Jews found themselves in during the Shoah, there were many documented cases of solidarity and commitment to others, both on an individual and a communal level.
These many outstanding examples of Jewish courage and dedication to others indicate that individual Jews had no real chance of survival without help from their fellow Jews, at some point during their Holocaust journey.
The attached materials include texts and readings on this year’s theme that can be incorporated into your ceremony.
To date, over 4 million names of Holocaust victims have been recorded in Yad Vashem’s online Central Database of Shoah Victims’ Names, with some 2.6 million of them taken from our Pages of Testimony. These Pages have been 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 new 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.
Yad Vashem Directorate
Expanded Global Activity to Recover Names of Shoah Victims
Since its inception, one of Yad Vashem's central missions has been the attempt to recover the name and personal story of each and every victim of the Shoah. While the Germans sought not only to destroy the Jews, but also to obliterate any memory of them, The Shoah Victims’ Names Recovery Project realizes our moral imperative to remember each victim as a human being, and not merely a number.
The relentless endeavor has to date identified over four million names of Shoah victims, documented in the Central Database of Shoah Victims’ Names. Roughly fifty percent of the victims' names in the database were derived from various archival sources and postwar commemoration projects. The remainder are recorded on "Pages of Testimony" submitted by relatives and others who knew of the victims.
Call on the public to fill out Pages of Testimony at your Memorial Event
Please display Promotional posters (available in English, Hebrew or Russian) together with "Pages of Testimony" (available in a number of languages) and call on the public to help grow the names database. To order posters please contact: email@example.com Additional promotional materials (newsletter texts, website banners, articles etc.) are available in the "materials toolskit" link in our community outreach guide.
Enhance your Memorial Ceremony with the following multimedia
- New Documentary Film: "In Search of Lost Memories"
"In Search of Lost Memories" provides a behind-the-scenes look at Yad Vashem's Shoah Victim's Names Recovery Project in the Former Soviet Union. The movie follows the efforts of project staff as they seek to commemorate the name of each individual murdered in these areas during the Holocaust -- a goal hampered for decades due to the rupture in relations between the Soviet Union and Israel. The 35-minute film includes moving footage of visits to remote villages, where volunteers conduct interviews with eyewitnesses in a last-minute attempt to collect information and names that would otherwise have been lost forever. Directed by Boris Maftsir, In Search of Lost Memories is in Russian and Hebrew with English subtitles.
To order a DVD copy, write to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sibling Reunion Video
Conditions permitting, you may also screen the video of the heartwarming story 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 in 2006 after Hilda’s grandson searched The Central Database of Shoah Victims’ Names in an effort to piece together the puzzle of their family’s fate and discovered that Hilda's brother had survived and having believed that she was murdered, filled in a Page of Testimony in her memory.
Since uploading the database to the Internet in 2004 there have been hundreds of families who have been reunited with or discovered relatives with whom they had lost contact in the wake of the Shoah. A sampling of additional remarkable stories of discovery can be viewed online.
Reflections on Contemporary Antisemitism
Alan Schneider, Director, B'nai B'rith World Center - Jerusalem
An increase of antisemitism among the extreme Right can be attributed at least in part to the world economic crisis for which Jewish have been singled out as bearing responsibility. As in the past, the countries leading with the highest rate of antisemitic incidents in general, and violent incidents in particular, are those with the largest Jewish populations: USA, France and Britain. In Holland, Belgium and other Western European countries, the challenge to the existence of Jewish communities is increasing. The extreme Right in Europe has continued to grow stronger with the concomitant spread of nationalistic sentiments and a substantial increase in violence against foreigners, but also against Jews. These trends have been seen prominently in USA, Germany, Russia, Poland and Ukraine.
Leading Holocaust historian Robert Wistrich, Head of the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, recently wrote that while levels of antisemitism (hiding under the more acceptable mask of hostility towards Israel) have indeed reached levels unprecedented since 1945, there is no immediate danger of widespread anti-Jewish violence breaking out in the western world.
"But in the Middle East, the hatred of Jews burns much more fiercely — both in Iran and in the Arab world. Islamist antisemitism, in particular, is soaked in some of the most inflammatory motifs that made the Kristallnacht atrocities possible in Nazi Germany and only three years later provided the rationale for the mass murder of European Jewry.
For example, there is the pervasive exploitation in Arabic of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, with its insistence on the reality of the “Jewish conspiracy for world domination”; there is a revival of the medieval Christian blood-libel against Jews, transplanted from Europe to the contemporary Arab-Muslim Middle East; and the mass diffusion of stereotypes about the Jews as cruel, treacherous and bloodthirsty colonialists seeking to destroy the identity and beliefs of the Muslim peoples. To this, one must add the slanderous but widely popular identification of Zionism with Nazism and apartheid and the “ethnic cleansing” of Palestinians — a Goebbels-like propaganda lie that has also found a growing audience in the West. However contradictory it may appear to some, the Zionism-is-Nazism fabrication co-exists in the Middle East today with Holocaust denial on a broad scale. Indeed, in Ahmadinejad’s Iran, Holocaust denial has become a state-sponsored weapon in the regime’s efforts to win over the Arab street and indoctrinate its own people with anti-Jewish toxins…
In contemporary Europe, Holocaust guilt is used more often than not to promote the Palestinian cause rather than to recognize the necessity of having a Jewish state. Arab and Islamist propaganda aided and abetted by many liberals and leftists (including some vocal Jewish anti-Zionists), hammers away at the grotesque libel that Israeli politics towards the Palestinians are worse than those of the Nazis. Many Europeans believe these fables… [T]he constant efforts to deny, relativize or invert the Holocaust – especially against Israel – are a conscious (or unconscious) invitation to repeat it"
These primal forms of antisemitism are prevalent in the Arab press through articles, caricatures and television programs, as documented by MEMRI – the Middle East Media Research Institute, and particularly in the Palestinian media, as documented by PMW – Palestinian Media Watch. In mid-January, PA TV broadcast the principal Palestinian Authority religious leader, Mufti Muhammad Hussein, presenting the killing of Jews by Muslims as a religious Islamic goal while the moderator who introduced him reiterated another Islamic belief: that the Jews are the descendants of apes and pigs. These were regular themes on PA TV during the Palestinian terror campaign of 2000-2005 and were last broadcast in 2010. A 2011 poll sponsored by the Israel Project found that 73% of Palestinians believe that the murder of Jews is a religious Islamic calling. [July 2011, Greenberg Quinlan Rosner.]
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.