Israel last year proposed to UNESCO that the Pages of Testimony, commemorating some of the six million Jews killed in the Holocaust, be recognized. The forms were filled out between 1954 and 2004 by the victims’ relatives and friends, many with accompanying photographs, and the collection currently encompasses some 2.6 million pages.
Yad Vashem launched the project of collecting and documenting testimonies in 1954, and has this far managed to collect the names of about 4.2 million Holocaust victims. Many of the names were independently verified through other documents, such as community registries and Nazi documents. In recent years, Yad Vashem has also employed volunteers to go to people’s homes and collect testimonies.
“The Pages of Testimony project is a huge collective commemoration project for Holocaust victims,” Dr. Alexander Avraham, director of the Hall of Names at Yad Vashem, said. “This is an unprecedented initiative, both in its scope and in its attempt to recover names as a symbol of the humanity of man.”
“For many, these testimonies are the only remaining link to their loved ones who were murdered in the Holocaust,” added Avner Shalev, chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate. “The German Nazis and their accomplices tried to murder every Jewish man, woman and child and to erase any trace of their existence. Through this project of collecting names and testimonies, we can restore their names and identities. I call upon the public to commemorate their loved ones who were murdered in the Holocaust.”
Other items added to the UNESCO register include a collection of Buddhist scriptures written on stones from Myanmar, two rare manuscripts from Nepal and diaries belonging to Ernesto Che Guevara.
-www.haaretz.com, 20 June 2013
The Holocaust is the most documented event in human history. The 50 year process of collecting the names of its victims was to ensure that they never be forgotten.
One example of Israel’s uniqueness among the nations was revealed to the heathen prophet Balaam, “How shall I curse, whom God hath not cursed? or how shall I defy, whom the LORD hath not defied? For from the top of the rocks I see him, and from the hills I behold him: lo, the people shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations” (Numbers 23:8-9).
Furthermore, Moses too confirms this fact as well, “Happy art thou, O Israel: who is like unto thee, O people saved by the LORD, the shield of thy help, and who is the sword of thy excellency! and thine enemies shall be found liars unto thee; and thou shalt tread upon their high places” (Deuteronomy 33:29).
Yet, Israel’s unfortunate desire is not to be unique and different, but to be just like all other nations. This event is recorded for us in 1 Samuel 8, where the leaders of Israel come to the prophet Samuel with this request, “Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations” (verse 5). Samuel takes great pains in explaining the disadvantage of having a king and being like the nations, but we read in verses 19 and 20, “Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us; That we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles.”
(For more on this subject, read Nations United, Item 2228.)