Yad Vashem seeking the names of Holocaust victims

After the war ended, Mr. H. searched for news of his family. Ultimately he discovered incontrovertible proof that they had been murdered in the first weeks of the mass murder operation, dubbed by the Nazis "The Final Solution to the Jewish Problem." The bodies of his loved ones lay in a mass grave, on the edge of a forest, with no marker and no name.

Yet there is a place where Mr. H. can record the names of each member of his family martyred in the Holocaust, a place that strives to collect the names of the millions of Jews who were brutally murdered in Europe and North Africa. That place is Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority in Jerusalem.

Yad Vashem has been collecting names, photographs and biographic details of the martyred Jewish victims since 1955. Millions of names are recorded on special documents called Pages of Testimony, which are carefully preserved in the Hall of Names. But many names are still unknown.

Yad Vashem is now launching a concerted campaign in Israel and abroad to record names of Holocaust victims. It is hoped that Pages of Testimony will be filled out not only by Holocaust survivors and their families but also by relatives, neighbors and friends who were lucky enough to escape from Europe and North Africa before the outbreak of the Second World War. This means virtually every Jewish family.

It was not easy for Mr. H. to take the blank forms and fill in the Pages of Testimony — a separate sheet for each family member who was murdered — and he needed much support and encouragement. But knowing that his loved ones were not forgotten, and that their memories would not simply disappear from the face of the earth comforted him greatly. "It's important for everyone to participate," he said.

Yad Vashem is calling on Jews worldwide to ensure that the legacy of those who were martyred be preserved for future generations.

Pages of Testimony can be down-loaded from Yad Vashem's Web site at www.yadvashem.org.il or photocopied. Forms are considered legal documents and must be signed and dated by hand, not faxed or e-mailed. Completed forms should be returned to the Hall of Names, Yad Vashem, POB 3477, Jerusalem 91034, Israel.