In 1993 Anthony and I visited the US Holocaust Memorial Museum. And all I can remember is... shoes. A room of shoes. Covered in dirt and dust. One upon the other. Difficult to distinguish one from the other. My brain tried to wrap itself around the number. The number of shoes. There were too many. So many had died. Had been killed. Had been left "anonymous, indefinite, and depersonalized."
Fast forward to 2008. A visit to Israel. A visit to Yad Vashem. The Holocaust Museum. Where you would not focus on a pile of shoes, but one shoe. Where each artifact is directly linked to the victim. The baby shoe of Hinda Cohen (1942-1944).
and within my walls
a memorial and a name (a "yad vashem")...
that shall not be cut off. Isaiah 56:5
I found this excerpt from the Yad Vashem Museum... and thought you might find it of interest and value as you work on the study. I have highlighted words that contradict "anonymous, indefinite, depersonalized."
...Yad Vashem focuses on the human story of people in the heart of western civilization... Our aim is to present Jewish people as human beings with discernable identities which the Germans planned to destroy in the name of their murderous racist ideology. From the dust and loss, we are obliged to retrieve the humanity of the victims and uncover families and communities as well as their culture that was annihilated during the Holocaust.
Our aim is twofold: First, to return to the victims their names and faces and thus to thwart the stated Nazi intention of murdering them and wiping out their memory; second, to learn about the victims so that we can remember them.
Jewish history is handed down from generation to generation and strengthens the sense of belonging to the Jewish people...
Our educational approach also aspires to instill in the pupils a feeling of hope. Studying the Holocaust can generate a feeling of helplessness, but we aim to create a dialogue with the past for a better future.
Pages of Testimony serve as symbolic tombstones and commemorate the identities and life stories of each victim that the Nazis murdered.
Millions of victims are still nameless. The generation of Holocaust survivors is naturally diminishing as they pass on and the collection of the missing names has become a major priority in an effort to preserve the memory of Holocaust victims. This race against the clock involves engaging the only people that knew and remember the victims who can still provide the information to preserve their identities.