Yad Vashem announced today that it has identified two-thirds of the Jews murdered in the Holocaust, a total of 4 million names thus far. Chairman of Yad Vashem Avner Shalev said, “In the past decade we have succeeded in adding about 1.5 million victims’ names to the Names Database, increasing by some 60% the information we had.
“The Germans sought not only to destroy the Jews, but to obliterate any memory of them. One of Yad Vashem’s central missions since its foundation, the recovery of each and every victim’s name and personal story, has resulted in relentless efforts to restore the names and identities of as many of the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis and their accomplices as possible.”
In 2004, Yad Vashem launched the Central Database of Shoah Victims’ Names on its website. At the same time, a new project to recover unknown names was initiated. Names are recovered via Pages of Testimony, special forms filled out in memory of the victims by people who remember them, and by combing archival lists and documentation for names.
Of the 4 million names currently known, some 2.2 million (about 55%) come from Pages of Testimony and the remainder from various archival sources and postwar commemoration projects.
Alexander Avraham, Director of the Hall of Names at Yad Vashem said that, “during the last five years we have concentrated our names recovery efforts in areas where most of the names remain unknown.
“We have made great progress. In 2005, we knew the names of some 20% of Jews murdered in Ukraine, today we know 35%; in Belorussia the figure has risen from 23% to 37% today, Poland (1938 borders) from 35% to 46%, Hungary from 45% to 65%, and Greece from 35% to 70%.”
While in Western Europe there were often lists kept of the Jews and deportation, making identification easier, in countries of Eastern Europe and the areas of the former Soviet Union, as well as Greece, much information was still lacking.
Concluded Avner, “We will continue our efforts to recover the unknown names, and by harnessing technology in the service of memory, we are able to share their names with the world.”