In anticipation of Holocaust Remembrance Day on Monday, Yad Vashem has launched
its first campaign to collect personal artifacts related to the
The campaign, called “Gathering the Fragments,” aims to
encourage survivors, children of survivors, and anyone with letters,
photographs, diaries, art, or anything else related to the period before,
during, and directly after the Holocaust to donate the material.
Vashem is racing to collect personal artifacts and the stories behind them
before they are accidentally thrown out or their owners pass away. Dr. Haim
Gertner, the director of the Archives Division at Yad Vashem, encouraged people
to bring their personal items to the museum, where they can be cataloged,
scanned, and preserved for future generations.
Often a personal artifact
becomes much more meaningful when it is presented in the context of history,
rather than kept at home in a box, he said.
Gertner told The Jerusalem
that he thinks of the challenge of telling the story of the Holocaust as a
puzzle, and that this campaign represents an effort to collect all of the pieces
of the puzzle before the story is lost to the passage of time.
family photos from a few years before the Holocaust are important, because they
might be the last photographs taken before the war, he said.
“We have a
problem that people don’t think what they have at home is connected to the
Holocaust,” he said. “People have letters at home from a son to his father in
France from the 40s and they say, ‘This is connected to the Holocaust?’ The
answer is yes, it’s very important, because these are the details that tell the
story in depth.”
Anyone wishing to donate material will be asked to
record the history and the story behind their item, or anything they know about
“It’s not just the stuff, it’s the story also – Yad Vashem is built
on these details,” Gertner said.
“Personal stories, told through items
such as letters and postcards, artwork, diaries, toys and more add a critical
dimension to Holocaust commemoration and education,” Yad Vashem Chairman Avner
Shalev said in a statement.
“A great deal of our activities today at Yad
Vashem, including education and research, rests on this
Yad Vashem has no specific goal for the campaign, but the
interest has been high. In the past two weeks since the campaign was officially
announced, it has collected around 100 items and more than 1,000 people have
called the museum.
Members of public are encouraged to call 1-800-25-7777
to speak with someone from Yad Vashem about their artifacts and set a time to
drop them off. There are 15 drop-off centers around the country at schools,
community centers and senior centers that will be operating through June. In
addition, there is a special drop-off point at Yad Vashem that will be open on
Monday, May 2, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The Gathering the Fragments
campaign is a joint project with the Prime Minister’s Office National Heritage
Project, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Pensioners Affairs.
Currently, the campaign is only in Israel, though anyone abroad with personal
artifacts to donate is encouraged to contact the museum.