18 October 2018
A unique Holocaust-era artifact will be on display for the first time at the Yad Vashem booth: the newly restored diary written by Holocaust survivor Alfred Zielony while incarcerated in the Warsaw ghetto.
The youngest son of the Zielony family, Alfred Zielony was born in 1897 in Warsaw. His father and one of his brothers died before World War II, and another brother immigrated to Mandatory Palestine. During the war, the Germans imprisoned Alfred and the remainder of his family in the Warsaw ghetto. While in the ghetto, one of Alfred's sisters died from illness, while his mother, wife and son were deported to Treblinka, where they were all murdered. Alfred decided to write a diary and record his daily life. The diary, written in Polish, was severely damaged by fire and water in the course of the Polish uprising – leaving it in shreds. In 2006, it was donated to Yad Vashem by the Zielony family.
For more than a decade, Yad Vashem's paper preservation laboratory has been working with handwriting experts and researchers, as well as with Alfred's son, to decipher its content. "By using cutting-edge techniques to rescue this unique document from destruction, we are able to gain knowledge of the daily life of the Warsaw ghetto at that critical time," says Dr. Haim Gertner Director of the Yad Vashem Archives and Fred Hillman Chair for Holocaust Documentation.
Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, will be participating in the General Assembly Conference, this year taking place from 22-24 October 2018 under the theme, "Israel and the Diaspora: We Need to Talk." Yad Vashem experts, educators and historians will be available at the Tel Aviv Convention Center to discuss the topic of memory and to deepen the public's connection to the events of the Holocaust through the poignant stories of the victims and survivors that bear testament to the strength of the Jewish and human spirit even during the darkest of times.
Dr. Gertner will attend the conference on Tuesday, 23 October 2018 from 9:00-15:30 to present the diary, and answer questions from the public about the fascinating vital work being carried out in the Yad Vashem Archives.
The public will also be able to research their individual family connection to the Holocaust with Yad Vashem experts on hand to assist in the navigation of Yad Vashem's extensive Central Database of Shoah Victims Names,' which currently contains more than 4.7 million names of Jews murdered during the Holocaust. Yad Vashem will also participate in a session entitled, "Supporting Survivors: Empowering and Assisting the Last Generation," on Tuesday, 23 October 2018 from 11:00-12:30.
"We must ensure that the Holocaust is never viewed as merely 'another historical event' in human history," says Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev. "Yad Vashem continues to work tirelessly on developing educational and technological tools that will continue to educate humanity towards a more responsible and tolerant existence, and to ensure that the memory of the Holocaust victims and survivors and their personal stories lives on."
Throughout the week, Yad Vashem will host thousands of GA participants, including the largest group – The Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest – with Mark Wilf, the incoming chair of the Jewish Federation of North America's Board of Trustees and his wife, Jane.