Gone, But Not Forgotten

By Diane Haddad Premium
Holocaust remembrance organization Yad Vashem’s Central Database of Shoah Victims’ Names <> attracted more than 3 million Web surfers — including Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon — within a month of its Nov. 22 launch. The Hebrew word shoah, which translates to catastrophe, has become synonomous with the Holocaust.

The shoah victims database is an ongoing international project to reconstruct the names and life stories of the 6 million Jews who died in the Holocaust. Yad Vashem gathered the database’s current 3 million names from historical documentation, existing smaller lists of victims and Pages of Testimony cards. Since Yad Vashem was established in Jerusalem in 1953, victims’ family members and friends have remembered their loved ones by completing these one-page identity cards with information such as names, dates and places of birth, prewar residences, professions, parents’ and spouses’ names, and dates and places the people died. (If you know of a Holocaust victim who isn’t listed in the database, you can submit his or her name right from the Yad Vashem Web site — an online form allows you to fill out a Page of Testimony and, if you have one, attach a photo or document.)

Shoah database users can search on a victim’s name, birth city, place of last known residence, death camp or the name of the submitter. The database offers dozens of variations for each name entry to account for different spellings, languages and nicknames.

According to Yad Vashem, searchers of its database reside in 163 countries — 39 percent are from Israel; 33 percent from nations in North American; 24 percent from Europe; and 4 percent from the rest of the world.

From the April 2005 Family Tree Magazine