Sharing stories of the Holocaust for future generations

Today is Yom Hashoah, Israel’s Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day, when people around the world pause to remember the victims who perished in the Holocaust. This year, the historical record of the Holocaust is more rich, accurate and interactive thanks to Yad Vashem, the Jerusalem-based center for remembering the Holocaust’s victims and survivors, which has brought its collections online and asked the public to input comments and personal stories. We’ve been able to support Yad Vashem with our technology by building the collection site, making it more accessible through search and continuing to update it with new content and technical features.

Since the collection launched in January, visitors from around the world have searched the enhanced archive and hundreds of people have contributed more than 5,000 comments, including many pieces of information that were unrecorded prior to the archive going online. The contributions range from personal stories to additions and corrections to discussions about the images. It’s remarkable how a short personal comment can bring a photograph to life in a whole new way. For example, one person added the following information to a photograph labeled “The bridge that connected the large and small ghetto”:

Another person added a story about a man who otherwise may have gone unnoticed in this photograph of “An orchestra escorting prisoners destined for execution.”

We’ve added a new comments page on the Yad Vashem site with a selection of stories like these alongside their respective photographs. We’ve also been updating the site with new features and content. For example, to provide better geographical context to pictures in the collection, you’ll now see a small map to the right of the image whenever geographic data is available, such as in this photo of a man in Warsaw, Poland. We also added new footage of the Eichmann trial—a central event in our understanding of the Holocaust during which searing personal testimony from many Holocaust survivors was broadcast on television for the first time, reaching far more people than ever before and enabling people to begin to grapple with the Holocaust’s truths and its memory. You can view this trial now on two YouTube channels, one with the original soundtrack and the other dubbed in English. The channels consist of 474 videos, 400+ hours of video and 875 gigabytes of data. You can learn more about the significance of these trials from short video lectures and a film entitled “A Living Record” on a special microsite.

We encourage you to explore the Yad Vashem collection site to learn more about the Holocaust and to contribute your personal stories, knowledge and thoughts to this expanding historical record.


Hamas mourns bin Laden’s death


Gaza government condemns US slaying of ‘Arab holy warrior’, ask ‘God to offer him mercy with true believers, martyrs’. Meanwhile US sources say arch terrorist’s country of birth Saudi Arabia refused to bury his body.

Hamas on Monday condemned the killing by US forces of Osama bin Laden and mourned him as an “Arab holy warrior” while Iran condemned “Zionist terror” and US sources said Saudi Arabia had refused to bury the arch-terrorist’s body.

We regard this as a continuation of the American policy based on oppression and the shedding of Muslim and Arab blood,” Ismail Haniyeh, head of the Hamas administration in the Gaza Strip, told reporters.Though he noted doctrinal differences between bin Laden’s al Qaeda and Hamas, Haniyeh said: “We condemn the assassination and the killing of an Arab holy warrior. We ask God to offer him mercy with the true believers and the martyrs.”

Iran responded to the killing by saying that the US and its allies had now “lost the excuse to continue their presence in the region with the aim of fighting terror”.

In a statement Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said, “This incident proves that there is no need for a huge war in order to deal with one person.” He said Iran, which sees itself as a victim of terror, “condemns all acts of terrorism in the world, including the organized terror of the Zionist regime”.

Meanwhile the Pakistani Taliban threatened attacks against government leaders, including President Asif Ali Zardari, the Pakistan army and the United States.

“Now Pakistani rulers, President Zardari and the army will be our first targets. America will be our second target,” Ehsanullah Ehsan, a spokesman for Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), or Taliban Movement of Pakistan, told Reuters by telephone from an undisclosed location.

US officials said Monday that bin Laden’s country of birth, Saudi Arabia, had refused to accept the body of the arch-terrorist for burial so the country was forced to bury him at sea, CBS reported.

Earlier sources in Washington reported that bin Laden’s body had been transferred to Afghanistan and then buried at sea for fear that Islamist extremists would turn any gravesite into a holy place.Saudi Arabia refused to comment on the death of bin Laden, saying that it was “too early”. Saudi public opinion is divided on the slaying, with some pleased that the organizers of a number of attacks in the country pleased but others, especially on Arab forums, calling him a hero. Saudi Arabia revoked his citizenship in 1994.

‘No connection between Islam, violence’

Issam al-Aryan of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood responded to bin Laden’s death by calling on the US to withdraw from Afghanistan and Iraq. “With bin Laden’s death one of the main reasons for violence in the world is gone,” he said.

“It’s time for Obama to withdraw from Afghanistan and Iraq and terminate the occupation of the US and Western forces throughout the world, which harms Muslim states deeply.”

Al-Aryan added that “the uprisings in the Middle East are proof that democracy has its place in the region and it does not require foreign occupation”. He also predicted that various terror groups would retaliate for the killing.

“It’s time the world understood that there is no connection between violence and Islam,” al-Aryan said. “Any connection between them is false and based on the media.”

Meanwhile, in Libya, rebels called for leader Muammar Gaddafi to face the same fate as the al-Qaeda leader. “We are very happy and we are waiting for the next step. We want the Americans to do the same to Gaddafi,” said rebel military spokesman Colonel Ahmed Bani.”We know Osama bin Laden is fighting against us, he is our enemy also,” he said, adding that Libyan rebels had evidence al-Qaeda sympathizers had been fighting against them.


Israel congratulates US on elimination of Osama Bin Laden


PM Netanyahu: Elimination of Osama Bin Laden
(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

The State of Israel joins the American people on this historic day in celebrating the elimination of Osama Bin Laden. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu congratulates US President Barack Obama, America’s military and its intelligence services on this great accomplishment.

“This is a resounding victory for justice, freedom and the common values of all democracies that are resolutely fighting shoulder to shoulder against terrorism.”


Dep FM Ayalon congratulates the U.S. on killing Bin Laden
(Communicated by the Bureau of Deputy Foreign Minister Ayalon)

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Danny Ayalon praised the American administration and its armed forces for killing Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan.

“As someone who was Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S. during the formative years of the war on terror, I can testify how hard the administrations in Washington worked to bring Bin Laden and other Al Qaeda leaders to justice,” said Ayalon. “This is a vital psychological tipping point in the war on terror and will send a clear message to terrorists and extremists everywhere that they are not immune.”

“This successful operation proves that sometimes the West needs to take extraordinary measures to defeat terror and provide security for its citizens.”

Dep FM Ayalon is currently visiting the Baltic nations and today will speak and participate at a ceremony at Paneriai where 70,000 Jews were brutally murdered during the Holocaust. “This successful operation sends the important message that terror and evil will find no permanent shelter and will eventually be destroyed, just as the Nazis decades before,” Ayalon said. “The rejoinder to remember and never forget is not about revenge, but about seeking justice. Regardless of time murderers and terrorists will receive the justice they deserve.”


DM Barak congratulates US on elimination of Osama Bin Laden
(Communicated by the Defense Minister’s Media Adviser)

Defense Minister Ehud Barak congratulates US President Barack Obama, US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, the Pentagon leadership and the heads of the US Armed Forces over the elimination of terrorist Osama Bin Laden.

“This is an important achievement for the US in the global war against terrorism.  In this operation, the US has shown determination and operational daring. We have again seen that the leading democracies of the world have a common struggle against terrorism, which will be decided by a multi-faceted joint effort that is far from over,” the Defense Minister said.