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Cabinet Minister Sharansky Visits Yad Vashem

Previews New Museum and Online Database of Holocaust Victims’ Names, Discusses Cooperation to Counter Antisemitism, Views Original Documents from the Holocaust

25 February 2004

Today, Minister for Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs Natan Sharansky visited Yad Vashem. His visit included an exclusive tour of the new Holocaust History Museum and Hall of Names (due to be completed by the end of this year); a presentation about global access to Yad Vashem’s database of Holocaust victims’ names (going online on Yad Vashem’s website this June); and a presentation about the International School for Holocaust Studies, including seminars for foreign educators and involvement in the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance, and Research, the Council of Europe, and other activities.

In Yad Vashem’s archives, Sharansky had a special viewing of original documents from the Holocaust. These included the ‘Black Book’, which was assembled during the Holocaust by author Ilya Ehrenburg. It includes some of the first testimonies of the mass murder of Jews by the Nazis and their collaborators in the Soviet Union. Also shown was a December 1941 list of Jews in the Brest ghetto in Belarus - Menachem Begin’s mother Hasia, who was later murdered by Ukranian and Polish Nazi collaborators, is listed in this document. Another document shown was Heinrich Himmler’s signed secret order of July 19, 1942 to (Friedrich) Wilhelm Krueger - this was the order to deport all Jews from the Generalgouvernement territory in Poland to the death camps by the last day of that year. Also shown was Oskar Schindler’s list of Jews he employed (and so saved) in his factory.

Sharansky also viewed Rudolf Hess’s visitors’ journal from Auschwitz, which includes an entry by a senior Nazi officer vacationing there with his family - the entry lavishes praise on the infamous murder camp. Also shown was an official letter confirming the promotion of a senior Nazi officer, personally signed by Adolf Hitler.

Sharansky concluded his visit with a meeting with Chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate Avner Shalev about cooperation between Yad Vashem and the Minister’s office in the battle against the growing wave of antisemitism. Sharansky expressed his desire to cooperate with Yad Vashem on several fronts, including further educational efforts to counter antisemitism in Europe and promotion of the online database of Holocaust victims’ names via Jewish student groups on university campuses.