West Germany Presents Holocaust Memorial Book to Israel

A Memorial Book recording the names of more than 128,000 German Jews killed by the Nazis was presented by the West German government to Israel last week in ceremonies at the Yad Vashem Holocaust center here. Prof. Hans Booms, head of the Federal Republic’s Archives at Koblenz, where the 1,700 page book was compiled over the past 25 years, told the 300 guests at the presentation ceremony that there can be no rapprochement between Germany and Israel if Germany does not acknowledge the stark realities of its past.

The book has an introduction by West German President Richard Von Weizsaecker, who wrote: “Not only are we responsible for the consequences of what happened, but our history would come to an end if we attempted to erase the years of terror from our own consciousness.”

The book contains the name, date and place of birth, and date and place of death of each of the victims, where such information was available. It is far from complete, however. Yad Vashem estimates that between 170,000 and 200,000 German Jews perished in the Holocaust. The Memorial Book does not contain the names of Jewish victims from what is now the East German Democratic Republic, which refused to cooperate in compiling the list. It does, however, include the names of Jews from East Berlin.

The data were culled from German municipal archives and Red Cross lists. But many records were destroyed in air raids. The compilers also had problems with spelling and had to weed out duplications. The dates of death of some 80,000 victims could not be ascertained.

Other countries have undertaken similar projects. Yad Vashem already houses memorial books from The Netherlands, Belgium and France.

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