The Shoah Victims' Names Recovery Project
Why Collect Names
Who were the "six million" murdered in the Holocaust? The number is so large it is almost impossible to comprehend. It does not convey who they were, where they lived, information about their families, what their dreams were, how they died, or whether and how they were related to us.
The Jews are a people of memory. Our history is an integral part of us and we pass it from generation to generation. Each year we tell the story of Passover–the exodus from Egypt–and recall the revelation at Mount Sinai. In the Yizkor prayer recited on the Jewish holidays we remember the collective tragedies of our people as well as our own personal losses. Every year we commemorate the yahrzeits (anniversaries) of deceased relatives.
Millions of our brethren were murdered without a trace during the Shoah. It is incumbent upon us to remember them. If we do not take action, their legacies will be lost to us forever. Since 1955, Yad Vashem has been fulfilling its mandate to preserve the memory of Holocaust victims by collecting their names, the ultimate representation of a person’s identity, as it is written: "And to them will I give in my house and within my walls a memorial and a name (Yad Vashem), an everlasting name that shall not be cut off." (Isaiah 56 : 5)
Pages of Testimony preserve the memory of Jews who were murdered in the Shoah for eternity. Each Page records the victim's full name, date and place of birth, place of residence before the war, profession, parents' and spouse's names, and circumstances of death, as well as a photograph when available. The Pages are completed by survivors or their descendants, as well as friends or acquaintances of victims, and stored for perpetuity in Yad Vashem’s Hall of Names as public commemoration for the Jewish people and all of mankind.
The Central Database of Shoah Victims’ Names currently contains 4.2 million names, including approximately two and a half million from scanned Pages of Testimony and the remainder that have been retrieved from archives and other sources. In November 2004, the Names Database was uploaded onto Yad Vashem’s website
A revolutionary milestone in Holocaust remembrance and learning, this resource provides the opportunity to submit additional names and conduct searches from any computer worldwide–enabling anyone to check whether their loved one has been memorialized–or simply to learn more about the ordinary men, women and children who fell victim to the Nazis’ genocidal policy.
Millions of victims remain unidentified. Yad Vashem is issuing an urgent call to Jewish families and communities to recover their names. Unless we assume responsibility for completing this vital mission, some of them may be lost to us forever. This is a race against time, before those who remember them are no longer with us.
We invite you to join the grass roots names recovery campaigns underway in communities throughout the world.
A names recovery campaign provides the opportunity for families to learn their personal histories and to become connected with their Jewish heritage thus deepening their own Jewish identities. Volunteers who assist Holocaust survivors and others with recording names of victims lingering in their memories are engaging in committed Jewish action. By helping Holocaust survivors, now approaching the ends of their lives, and seeking a way to memorialize their friends and loved ones for perpetuity, volunteers will reinforce their commitment to Jewish values and become catalysts for strengthening the fabric of their local Jewish communities.