Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day 2013
Defiance and Rebellion during the Holocaust
70 Years Since the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising
"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
8 April 2013 – 28 Nissan 5773
The worldwide Holocaust memorial project “Unto Every Person There is a Name”, now in its twenty-fourth consecutive year, is a unique project designed to perpetuate the memory of the Six Million - among them one-and-a-half million Jewish children - while the world remained silent. We seek to remember them not only as a collective, but 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.
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 were born Jewish. Each of their deaths was a separate, distinct tragedy that together has caused indelible trauma to the Jewish People. By personalizing the individual tragedies of the Jewish victims of Nazi Germany and their collaborators, “Unto Every Person There is a Name” 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 the Holocaust 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.
The “Unto Every Person” project also provides an opportunity to recover additional names of Holocaust victims, to reflect on this year’s central theme for Yom Hashoah and to focus attention on contemporary forms of anti-Semitism which continue to plague many countries around the world.
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” is an integral part of the official Yom Hashoah commemoration ceremonies, with the central events held at the Knesset and 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 of the Holocaust – 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”.
“Defiance and Rebellion during the Holocaust: 70 Years Since the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising" - Central theme for Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day 5773
"It is a necessity… an imperative, due to the historical truth and the legacy that our generation will bequeath to those who will come after us, to speak not only of the loss… but also to reveal, in its fullest scope, the heroic struggle of the people, the community and the individual, during the days of massacre and at the very epicenters of destruction."
Thus wrote Yitzhak (Antek) Zuckerman, one of the leaders of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, in the early 1950s. Today his words remain a guiding principle as we mark the 70th anniversary of the uprising.
The notions of "defiance" and "rebellion" are fundamentally important to any discussion concerning the Holocaust – and rightly so. In the ghettos and camps, indeed in every place with a Jewish populace and Jewish life, there was some form of protest or resistance to the plot to obliterate the Jewish nation. From flight to hiding, mutual help efforts to educational and creative activities as well as the observance of Jewish rites – even with the scarcest of means and in the most unthinkable conditions – all these acts embodied the relentless struggle of Jewish individuals and communities to counteract the restrictions and dangers raining down upon them – and against all odds, sometimes, to live to see the day of victory.
The most notable armed uprising that took place in the ghettos broke out in Warsaw on the first night of Pesach 5703 (19 April 1943). The revolt took place in reaction to the entry by German troops into the ghetto and on the heels of armed resistance that had been offered the previous January by the ghetto underground. In April, it was apparent that the Germans’ goal was the liquidation of the largest ghetto in occupied Europe as a birthday present for Adolf Hitler. Young Jews, condemned to death by the occupying Germans, organized into two underground networks (the Jewish Combat Organization and the Jewish Military Union) with little means and no outside support. Along with members of the undergrounds, all of the surviving Jews in the ghetto resisted the enemy in order to defy their murderers, although they knew they had little chance of survival. These 50,000 Jews, left in the ghetto following mass death by disease and starvation and the deportation of 265,000 men, women and children to Treblinka, took to defense in the bunkers, and fought with utmost courage and resolve. They put up the bravest of resistance for almost a month, until they were brutally suppressed.
The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising was the first large-scale urban civilian rebellion, predating similar non-Jewish underground activity and uprisings in Europe, and strengthening and uniting Jewish youth in other places. There were some acts of Jewish armed resistance before Warsaw and some preparations that only came to fruition afterwards. When it became clear in the latter half of 1942 that the smaller ghettos in Nesvizh and Lachva (Belorussia) and Tuczyn in Volhynia were to be liquidated, members of the underground and other ghetto inmates acted as one organized force, setting fire to their houses and breaching the fence in an attempt to reach the surrounding forests. In Vilna and Kovno in Lithuania, and in Bialystok, Częstochowa and Będzin in Poland, underground resistance forces trained with all their might and extremely meager resources for future battles that broke out after the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. In Krakow, the underground even sent combat units outside the ghetto to the "Aryan" part of the city to stage successful attacks on German military personnel. Finally, tens of thousands of Jews from across Europe made their way into the forests, swamps and mountains to join the partisans, fighting bravely behind enemy lines, and earning numerous military awards for their courage, but rarely surviving their ordeal.
Beside the uprisings in the ghettos, resistance of varied kinds took place at forced labor and concentration camps, at death pits and mass murder sites, and even at three extermination camps: with armed uprisings at Treblinka and Sobibor in the summer of 1943, and at Auschwitz-Birkenau in the fall of 1944. The fact that only a handful of inmates managed to break out of the camps and survive did not overshadow the boldness of the endeavors, which took place in the very places in which human cruelty had reached its deepest depths.
Ultimately, the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising became a universal symbol of the heroic struggle by a handful of people in impossible conditions against genocidal oppression. It would later inspire extensive scholarly research and numerous works of literature and the arts – and become a source of pride for the survivors and the entire Jewish nation.
Contemporary Forms of Anti-Semitism
“Unto Every Person there is a Name” ceremonies also provide an important opportunity to focus attention on contemporary forms of anti-Semitism that continue to plague many countries including those in which some of the worst atrocities of the Holocaust occurred, and much of the Arab world.
The annual report by the Israel Ministry of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs on events and trends in anti-Semitism released in January 2013, notes that 2012 saw an escalation in violence directed against Jews around the world. While the murder of Rabbi Jonathan Sandler and three children, including two of his own, at the Otsar Hatorah Jewish school in Toulouse, France by Islamist terrorist Mohammed Merah in March shocked the world, other anti-Semitic events of various natures affected Jews and Jewish communities in Europe, North America, Australia and Latin America in the course of the year (for further information see attachment III)
Expanded Global Activity to Recover Names of Shoah Victims
“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.
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. To learn more about the project click here.
The relentless endeavor has to date identified over four million names of Shoah victims, documented in the Central Database of Shoah Victims’ Names online at: www.yadvashem.org. Roughly half of the victims' names in the database were derived from various archival sources and postwar commemoration projects. The other half are recorded on "Pages of Testimony" submitted by relatives and others who knew of the victims.
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” ceremonies 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 IV for further details).
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
A unique list of names of Holocaust victims from the Warsaw Ghetto and other ghettos is available for use in Attachment VI. Other lists are available online here.
* Pages of Testimony
* Yizkor and El Maleh Rahamim prayer texts (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, April 7 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); World Jewish Congress; Naftaly Levy (World Zionist Organization); Amb. Gideon Behar (Israel Foreign Ministry); Boris Belodubrovsky (Nativ).
Project Initiator: Haim Roet
For 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)-2-6443569; email@example.com, 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
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
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 7610918
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 5773, February 2013
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 - approximately 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 the 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 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 24th 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 “Defiance and Rebellion during the Holocaust: 70 Years Since the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising”.
Throughout the Holocaust, Jews in cities and towns, in ghettos and in camps, resisted their fate in some way - whether they escaped or went into hiding, organized mutual support endeavors or observed Jewish laws and customs under impossible conditions, all these acts were expressions of defiance and resistance. In addition to the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in spring of 1943, armed uprisings took place in several other ghettos and in three extermination camps, and various forms of resistance took place at labor and concentration camps, at death pits and sites of mass murder.
The attached materials include texts and readings on this year’s theme that can be incorporated into your ceremony.
To date, 4.2 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. 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 Holocaust remembrance and our memory of the victims. By reciting their names, ages and places of death, we keep that memory alive, and remind ourselves that each man, woman and child was, and is, an entire world.
Yad Vashem Directorate
Summary of Contemporary Forms of Anti-Semitism
2012 was characterized by a worrisome rise in terrorism and attempted attacks against Jewish institutions and individuals in Western Europe and North America, especially by Islamists and right-wing extremists. As reported by the security service of the Jewish community in France (SDCJ), the Toulouse murders served as a springboard for a rise in anti-Semitic events throughout France, which increased 45% compared to the same period last year. Street violence – physical and verbal – against Jews was also on the rise in Western Europe, especially near Jewish schools and synagogues. Rabbis and Jewish students were attacked in Berlin, New York, Milan and Toronto, while synagogues and Jewish community centers were targeted in Milan, Berlin and Manchester.
Synagogues, Jewish cemeteries, Holocaust memorials and Jewish communal and private property continued to be targeted for attack in 2012. These included synagogues in St. Petersburg, Kremenchuk (Ukraine), Caracas, Brussels, Genoa, Vienna, Lvov, Lodz, Victoria (Canada), Nice, Rhodes, Montevideo and Budapest.
In addition, anti-Semitic fascist political movements such as Jobbik in Hungary, Golden Dawn in Greece and the March of Independence in Poland – all EU member states – and Svoboda in the Ukraine, gained traction both in and out of Parliament. Anti-Israel propaganda – alongside traditional anti-Semitic tropes (i.e. Jewish world domination, dual loyalty, Holocaust denial, Protocols of the Elders of Zion etc.) - feature in the propaganda and statements of these political movements. A major motif in Jobbik’s hateful message is support for Iran and for the Palestinian struggle against Israel, while Jobbik MP Martin Gyongyosi said that it was time “to compile a list of Hungary’s Jews”. Recognizing the severity of this phenomenon, EU Home Affairs Minister Cecilia Malmstrom noted that far-Right political discourse is feeding hatred and anti-Semitism throughout the EU and could even harm the European project itself, while Italian President Gorgio Napolitano warned against “new and persistent perils” of Holocaust denial and revisionism, adding that “anti-Semitism as a dimension of Islamic fundamentalism” risked being “undervalued.”
State-sanctioned anti-Semitic and anti-Israel rhetoric, which has been common in Venezuela under President Hugo Chavez, spiked in 2012 around the candidacy of Henrique Capriles Radonski – an affirmed Catholic - to replace Chavez, in relation to Radonski’s Jewish heritage.
Also, in Chile, anti-Semitic diatribes were used by the extreme Left to attack the country’s Jewish Minister of Defense, Rodrigo Hinzpeter.
In Eastern Europe particularly in the Baltic states, the war-time regimes that collaborated with the Nazis in murdering Jews and their leaders continue to enjoy varying degrees of rehabilitation.
Deep-seated religiously-motivated anti-Jewish and anti-Israel prejudice spiked in the Arab world in connection with the “Pillar of Defense” operation in Gaza, particularly by Islamist and Moslem Brotherhood spokesmen. This included calls for Jihad against Jews in numerous statements and articles that repeated the anti-Semitic description of Jews as “the offspring of monkeys and pigs” and “heretics”, along with the doomsday Hadidth that calls on every Moslem to kill Jews – imageries used by Islamist Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi in a recently revisited 2010 television interview. On International Holocaust Remembrance Day 2013, a senior Egyptian official close to Morsi and responsible for appointing the editors of all state-run newspapers said that the Holocaust was a U.S. intelligence hoax and that the Six Million were not murdered by the Nazis but moved to the United States. The “Protocols of the Elders of Zion’ continued to be a major motif in popular Arab and Iranian conspiracy theories and to appear prominently at book fairs. Iran and its president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad continued their anti-Israel and anti-Jewish diatribes in which Judaism is portrayed as a inferior religious group epitomized by the State of Israel that serves as part of the West’s imperialist conspiracy. On August 16, Ahmadinejad repeated his vision of the Middle East without Israel - “cancerous and an affront to humanity” - or Americans.
As presented in another Israel government report, anti-Jewish incitement continues to be prevalent in Palestinian Authority and Hamas media. In January 2012 an Imam, preaching on PA television, accused the Jews of “causing all bad and tragedies in Palestine and the entire world”. Anti-Semitism and anti-Israel agitation is not only the purview of religious figures in the PA. For example, the Director General of the PA Ministry of Health stated in December 2012 that Israel is responsible for the increase in the appearance of AIDS in the PA and the EU-funded Palestinian Ma’an News Agency recently published an article that describes Jews as “the root of conflict in the world”, cursed by Allah and “outcasts in every corner of the earth.”
New Interface for Shoah Victims’ Names Database
Yad Vashem has recently launched a new platform for the online Central Database of Shoah Victims’ Names, unveiling state-of-the-art features and once again setting a new industry standard. The database offers an improved user experience including: Wizard-based Pages of Testimony submission forms, enhanced search capabilities and Google Maps integration. When the Database was uploaded to the Internet in 2004, it was heralded as a pioneering use of technology in the service of memory. Aimed at recording the names of Holocaust victims through the digitization of data from Yad Vashem’s vast repositories, the Names Database has added 1.4 million names in the past eight years, and now includes information about 4.2 million Holocaust victims. Keeping apace with rapid technological development, Yad Vashem continues to disseminate its extensive resources to a worldwide audience. Click here to read an article about the new interface.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org Additional promotional materials (newsletter texts, website banners, articles etc.) are available in the "materials toolkit" link in our community outreach guide.
If your local synagogue, school or Jewish community organization has created a memorial project commemorating Holocaust victims that you would like to share with Yad Vashem, please conatct: email@example.com.
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.
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.