Yad Vashem Launches Campaign to Gather Testimony from Survivors

The Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem and the Education Ministry have launched a nationwide campaign to collect testimony from aging survivors.

Education Minister Amnon Rubinstein and Yad Vashem Director Avner Shalev described the project at a news conference in Jerusalem on Tuesday, two days before Israel marked the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day.

The joint project, which begins next month, will recruit Israeli high school students to gather the testimony.

Rubinstein said the project would help document all available information from what he called a “fast disappearing generation” of Holocaust survivors.

He also hoped that recruiting Israeli teen-agers to gather the information would deepen their motivation to learn about he Holocaust.

The students, after receiving guidance on how to gather testimony, will begin knocking on doors in the pilot communities of Carmiel, Kiryat Gat and Ra’anana.

“We are asking our students to visit survivors’ homes, write down the names of the people who were murdered and assassinated by the Nazis in death camps, record their testimonials and collect mementos and other evidence of those tragic days,” said Rubinstein.

Like Rubinstein, Shalev stressed the urgency to obtain living testimony.

“There is a transition between generations. The generation of survivors who are living witness to the tragedy are fading out, are leaving us, and the responsibility to keep their remembrance is taken by younger generations,” Shalev said.

As part of the large-scale effort to gather documentation, Shalev also announced that Yad Vashem and film director Steven Spielberg would cooperate in a drive to gather video interviews with survivors.

In the wake of his acclaimed Holocaust film “Schindler’s List,” Spielberg established the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation to gather filmed testimonies of survivors from around the world, including Israel.

Film crews were expected to begin working in Israel this summer. They have already begun operating in the United States.

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