22 January 2017
In January 1941, Perla Tytelman wrote a heartfelt letter to her daughter Rachel from the Warsaw ghetto: "You should be consoled by the thought that this has to end sometime, and that then we will once again be happy together. Our yearning for each other knows no bounds - Mamush [Mommy]." Perla and Yosef Tytelman lived in Warsaw together with their three children, Samuel, Rachel and Rega. In 1940, Yosef and Rachel were exiled to Siberia. In their last letter from the Warsaw ghetto, Perla and her two children, Samuel and Rega, express their deep concern for Yosef and Rachel as well as their hopes to one day meet again. The three were murdered by the Nazis before this dream could be fulfiled. Following the war, Rachel and Yosef returned to Poland before finally immigrating to Eretz Israel in October 1947 aboard the ship "Exodus."
This precious letter is one example of personal letters housed in the Yad Vashem Archives now viewable online, some for the first time, as part of the online exhibition, "Last Letters From the Holocaust: 1941." Some 75 years after they were written, the exhibition is being launched by Yad Vashem to mark International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust. The first of its kind in a series of online exhibitions featuring last letters, the exhibition presents nine letters written by children and adults in 1941 and sent to their loved ones during the Holocaust. They were composed in the ghettos and camps, while fleeing, in hiding and while wandering from place to place. They reveal the inner world and terrible fate of individual Jews in the Holocaust; for many recipients, they were also the last greetings and messages from their loved ones.
Yona Kobo, researcher of online exhibitions in Yad Vashem's Internet Department, points out the uniqueness of the letters: "Handwriting is one the most individual, most intimate and personal forms of self-expression. These last letters give us a small window into the lives of these individuals and provides a firsthand testimony of the hardships they faced as well as their longing to be reunited with their families."
The letters presented in the exhibition were sent from Poland, Latvia, France, Austria, Ukraine, Yugoslavia and Romania. Parting with these precious letters was not easy; nevertheless, survivors and their families ultimately chose to donate them to Yad Vashem where they will be documented and preserved for future generations. The Yad Vashem Archives house the most comprehensive collection of Holocaust-era documentation in the world, including some 190 million pages of documentation.
"Yad Vashem aims to provide the general public with relevant, meaningful and timely content," says Internet Department Director Dana Porath. "People around the world can now easily access information on any computer or hand-held device and relate to the Holocaust and its meanings for today's global society."
Facebook "IRemember Wall"
In addition, to mark International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust, Yad Vashem is promoting its annual "IRemember Wall" on Facebook. The "IRemember Wall" is a unique and meaningful opportunity for the public to participate in an online commemorative activity. When one joins the Wall, one's Facebook profile automatically links to a name of a Holocaust victim from the Central Database of Shoah Victims' Names, and together they are posted to Yad Vashem's Facebook "IRemember Wall." As one participant said: "This is a great way of keeping the Holocaust victims relevant. They should forever be linked with the living, lest we forget." Additionally, Yad Vashem has created a special mini-site containing educational resources, online exhibitions, and a range of social media that will all be readily available to help people worldwide commemorate the day in a meaningful way.