Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day 2015

The Anguish of Liberation and the Return to Life: Seventy Years Since the End of WWII

Letter from the International Committee “Unto Every Person There Is A Name”

Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day

The worldwide Holocaust memorial project “Unto Every Person There is a Name”, now in its twenty-sixth consecutive year, is a unique project designed to perpetuate the memory of the Six Million - among them one-and-a-half million Jewish children – murdered while the world remained silent. The project allows participants the space and time to memorialize 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 lasting 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 focuses attention on the urgent need 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 antisemitism which continue to plague many countries around the world.

A World-Wide Effort

“Unto Every Person There Is A Name” ceremonies are 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. Reuven Rivlin (See the President’s letter).

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, in addition to local 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 their age, place of birth and place of murder - 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”. "Unto Every Person There is a Name" rests on the success of Yad Vashem's Shoah Victims' Names Recovery Project that to date has incontrovertibly identified over four million names of Shoah victims and continues its relentless quest to recover all the six million names.

The Anguish of Liberation and the Return to Life: Seventy Years Since the End of WWII

The Central Theme for Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day 2015

The day of liberation, the one for which every Jew had longed throughout the years of the Holocaust, was for most a day of crisis and emptiness, a feeling of overwhelming loneliness as they grasped the sheer scale of the destruction on both the personal and communal level. At the war's end, in the early spring of 1945, it became apparent that some six million Jews had been murdered – about one-third of world Jewry. Those who had survived were scattered throughout Europe: tens of thousands of survivors of the camps and death marches, liberated by the Allied armies on German soil and in other countries, were in a severely deteriorated physical condition and in a state of emotional shock. Others emerged for the first time from various places of hiding and shed the false identities they had assumed, or surfaced from partisan units with whom they had cast their lot and in whose ranks they had fought for the liberation of Europe. In the wake of international agreements signed at the end of the war, some 200,000 additional Jews began to make their way back West from the Soviet Union, where they had fled and managed to survive the war years.

During the Holocaust, many Jews lived with the feeling that they were the last Jews to survive. Nevertheless, after liberation, survivors went far and wide in search of family members, friends and loved ones who might also have stayed alive, against all odds. Many decided to go back to their prewar homes, but they encountered utter destruction. In some places, especially in Eastern Europe, Jews met with severe outbreaks of antisemitism – some 1,000 Jews were murdered in the initial postwar years by the locals. The most appalling episode was the Kielce pogrom, in Poland – a violent attack on Jewish residents in July 1946 in which 42 Jews were murdered – some of them the sole survivors of entire families – and many others were injured.

At the same time, many survivors sought to leave Europe and move to places where they could safely rebuild their lives and their homes. About two-thirds of the survivors who chose not to remain in Europe after the war set their sights on Eretz Israel. Yet going to Israel was a formidable struggle, in view of the policies imposed by the British Mandate that barred them from entering into the Land. As part of the effort to break through the borders and prohibitions, the illegal immigration movement – the Ha'apala – was organized, whereby survivors boarded old vessels in various Mediterranean ports and sailed for Eretz Israel. The remaining third immigrated to the US, Latin America, South Africa, Canada and Australia.

(For the full text of the Rationale, click here)

Contemporary Forms of Antisemitism

Taking place on Yom Hashoah – the day marking the most heinous antisemitic outrage in history - “Unto Every Person there is a Name” ceremonies also provide a poignant opportunity to focus attention on contemporary forms of this scourge.   Antisemitism - in its numerous forms and emanating from divergent sources - remains a unique and dangerous phenomenon that continues to plague societies in most countries around the world, including those in which some of the worst atrocities of the Holocaust were perpetrated, in the Palestinian Authority, and in much of the Arab world.

Any review of antisemitism over the past year must focus on the heinous January 9 Shabbat-eve rampage at the Kosher market in Paris by Islamic radical Amedy Coulibaly that left four innocent Jews dead. That murderous attack – along with the Brussels Jewish Museum shooting perpetrated on May 24 by Islamist Mehdi Nemmouche that left four Jews dead and mob sieges against synagogues during the summer's Protective Edge operation – threw into stark relief the dangerous, sharp rise in violent antisemitic acts and expressions that have plagued many countries over the past year.

(For further information see Annex II)

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  4.5 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 outstanding universal value of the Pages of Testimony Memorial Collection has been recognized by UNESCO, which inscribed it in its prestigious Memory of the World Register in 2013.

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. Nearly 2 million victims’ names are still missing, and 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.

(For further information, see Annex III).

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 (Annex IV)
    * Lists of names
    A list of names of Holocaust victims relevant to this year’s theme is available here.
    Other lists are available on-line here.

    In order to add a further element to your ceremony, there is now a list of names of Holocaust victims with links to their Pages of Testimony, which are all displayed on the domed ceiling of the Hall of Names in Yad Vashem’s Holocaust History Museum.  The Pages can either be printed in advance of the ceremony and given out, or else, participants in the ceremony can be informed in advance about this list, and encouraged to print out a Page of Testimony of a particular individual, whose memory the participant can then undertake to perpetuate.  To access this list, click here.

    Pages of Testimony
    * Yizkor and El Maleh Rahamim prayer texts (available 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 official State ceremony marking the commencement of Yom Hashoah will take place at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem on Wednesday, April 15 at 20:00 (8 p.m.) Israel time. The ceremony is broadcast live on Israel’s Channels One, Two and Ten accessible via the internet, which might allow you to incorporate it into your own ceremony. Furthermore, the ceremony will be available online on the Yad Vashem website the following day. 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: Inbal Kvity Ben Dov, Dr. Alexander Avram (Yad Vashem); Alan Schneider (B’nai B’rith International); World Jewish Congress; Naftaly Levy (World Zionist Organization); Amb. Gideon Behar (Israel Foreign Ministry); Masha Novikov (Nativ).

Project Initiator: Haim Roet

For Yad Vashem
Inbal Kvity Ben Dov, Commemoration and Public Relations;
Ossi Kupfer, Project Coordinator; Dr. Alexander Avram, Hall of Names
POB 3477, Jerusalem 91034, Israel
Tel. (972)-2-6443574; Fax (972)-2-6443569; general.information@yadvashem.org.il, 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, 91034 ISRAEL
Tel: 972-2-644-3470

For North America
Rhonda Love
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
Naftaly Levy
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
Masha Novikov
Tel: (972) 2 5089085; Fax: (972) 2 5089120

Annex I

Message from the Chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate Avner Shalev

Annex II

Contemporary Forms of Antisemitism - Main Trends and Factors 2014

Compiled by Alan Schneider

Any review of antisemitism over the past year must focus on the heinous January 9 Shabbat-eve rampage at the Kosher market in Paris by Islamic radical Amedy Coulibaly that left four innocent Jews dead. That murderous attack – along with the Brussels Jewish Museum shooting perpetrated on May 24 by Islamist Mehdi Nemmouche that left four Jews dead and mob sieges against synagogues during the summer's Protective Edge operation – threw into stark relief the dangerous, sharp rise in violent antisemitic acts and expressions that have plagued many countries over the past year.

According to the annual report on antisemitism in 2014 issued by the Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs Ministry in collaboration with the Coordination Forum for Countering Antisemitism and presented to the government of Israel ahead of International Holocaust Remembrance Day (January 27), Muslim extremists have displaced the extreme Right and radical Left  as the main instigators of antisemitism in Europe today, while Israel's actions continue to be used as a smoke-screen for hate-infused antisemitism that no longer differentiates between "Israeli" and "Jewish".  The source of much of the anti-Jewish sentiment in Europe today are Europeans of Moslem descent and in some countries – particularly those with large Moslem communities such as Germany, France, Great Britain and Belgium - most of the reported antisemitic events were perpetrated by Moslems.  During and after  operation "Protective Edge", an atmosphere of hate allowed for an escalation against Israel and Jews, with antisemitic outbursts becoming part of everyday life in many Jewish communities.

The report's main findings:
1. In some countries, a 400% rise in antisemtic acts was registered during the IDF's "Protective Edge" operation in Gaza in July-August 2014 compared to the same period in 2013. Many demonstrations that were called to protest Israel's actions in Gaza deteriorated into violent antisemitic hate-fests.
2. 2014 was  characterized by a worrisome rise in terrorist acts and in attempted attacks against Jewish targets, particularly by elements identified with radical Islam or the radical Right. At the same time, street violence - violent physical and verbal acts against Jews has increased –– a phenomenon evidenced particularly in Europe in the vicinity of synagogues and Jewish schools.
3. The de-legitimization campaign against the State of Israel continues to pose a major threat to Jewish communities and Israel. Demonization, de-legitimization and BDS campaigns in academia, churches, sports, science,  commercial bodies and the arts, along with lawfare, have increased and are likely to lead to a deterioration in the condition of Jews where this phenomenon occurs.
4. The borders between anti-Zionism, anti-Israelism and antisemitism were further blurred in 2014 as radical Leftists and radical Moslems came together to participate in demonstrations that included clear antisemitic messages (for example in Germany "Jews to the Gas" – heard for the first time in public demonstrations since the Holocaust).
5. The report found that antisemitic incidents on college campuses in the United States also increased by 400% during operation “Protective Edge” compared to the same period last year.
6. While the extreme Right continues to be a major culprit of antisemitic activities, most violent attacks were perpetrated by persons of Arab or Moslem descent.
7. The internet, social media and photo apps continued to be a major online platform for traditional forms of anti-Jewish hatred, including the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and various conspiracy theories, with huge reach and impact.
8. France is the most difficult place in all of Europe for Jews to live today, with eight synagogues being attacked in a one-week period and calls to "Slit the Jews’ Throats" heard openly at demonstrations. Nevertheless, Chile, Argentina, South Africa, Australia, Canada and Turkey also experienced significant increases in antisemitic incidents in 2014.

In a separate report issued in early 2015, the Community Security Trust, which advises Britain’s Jewish community on security issues, recorded 1,168 anti-semitic incidents in the UK in 2014 – the highest yearly total since the group began monitoring anti-semitic events in Britain in 1984 and double the number recorded in 2013. The most common type of incident involved verbal abuse directed at random Jews in public while other forms of abuse included hate mail, threats and abuse on social media, graffiti and the damage of Jewish property. In reaction to the report, a group of British lawmakers proposed 34 recommendations for tackling the escalation.

Annex III

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: names.proj@yadvashem.org.il 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 contact: names.proj@yadvashem.org.il.
We invite you to make use of this short Video for Memorial Names Recitation Ceremony. (click here for video Remembering the Markowicz Family from Trzebinia, Poland )

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 remarkable stories of discovery can be viewed online.

Annex IV

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.