The Hall of Names at Yad Vashem museum.Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority, has a dual challenge before it. The museum must both pass on the legacy of the Holocaust, while keeping pace with a younger and more tech-savvy target audience that is also increasingly disconnected from the events of the last century.
Today, May 1, which is Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day in Israel, Yad Vashem will upload its 130,000-image photo archive to its website. The collection, the largest of its kind in the world, includes photographs taken in the ghettos, during the deportations, images that illustrate slave labor, the camps, liberation and more.
Users will be able to search the database by topic, name or location. Photographs in the database are also linked to existing information about content – click on an image, and a Google map will automatically open, showing the location of the places mentioned in the caption. Other links enable expanded searches.
“This will allow the public at large direct and simple access to the vast collection of resources collected by Yad Vashem over the past half century,” says Avner Shalev, chairman of Yad Vashem. “We are hoping that it will increase public awareness of the archives’ tremendous importance, and encourage people who have similar photographs and documents to confer them to Yad Vashem for safekeeping.”
Dr. Haim Gertner, director of the Yad Vashem Archives added: “We are hoping that the public will join us in our ongoing efforts to decipher the pictures and identify the people in them.”
Also this week, Yad Vashem launched two YouTube channels, in English and Arabic. The English channel contains testimonies from Holocaust survivors, including archival footage, lectures on key issues, footage from official visits to Yad Vashem, (including those of President George W. Bush in January 2008, and Pope John Paul II in March 2000), as well as human interest stories, such as family reunions.
The Arabic channel has testimonies and archival footage about the Holocaust, with Arabic subtitles.
The YouTube channels seek to make reliable information widely available to online visitors, enable them to experience survivors’ testimonies, and view experts addressing difficult questions.
Yad Vashem’s YouTube channels, online archive, websites and new modern museum complex are all part of a decades-long approach of using technologies to present artifacts, photographs, texts, and video, and create a personal experience for visitors.
Over the last few years, Yad Vashem has invested significantly in the computerization of its various collections, digitizing data ranging from decades-old documents to new video testimonies of survivors and their families.