Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial centre Visitors examine displays at
the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial centre in Jerusalem. Photograph:
Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images
A collection of more than 130,000 photographs, the first tranche
of the world's largest collection of Holocaust documents, has put
been put online today.
Israel's Holocaust memorial centre, Yad Vashem, in Jerusalem, has
teamed up with Google to give the public access to its photographs
and documents on the internet.
The images can be searched for directly from Google using standard
key words. There are plans to expand the online material in the
future to include other parts of Yad Vashem's vast archives.
A social network element allows viewers to contribute to the
project by adding their own stories, comments and documents on
family members who appear in the online archives.
Avner Shalev, the chairman of Yad Vashem, said that even though
the interactive component could be misused to post anti-semitic
comments, that risk was outweighed by the benefits that would
accrue to people seeking information about their ancestors.
"This is part of our vision to connect Yad Vashem's knowledge and
information to modern technology, and bring it to youngsters," he
The project began three years ago in the Tel Aviv skyscraper that
houses Google's research operations in Israel. It was inspired by
a Google initiative encouraging employees to spend 20% of work
time on projects they felt were important.
Google used experimental optical character recognition technology
to make text within documents and photographs searchable in
The move is just the latest in Yad Vashem's digital outreach
programme. This week the centre launched a version of its YouTube
channel in Farsi, to educate the country's most bitter enemy,
Iran, about the Nazi genocide of 6 million Jews.
Yad Vashem's next priority is to digitise its collection of
testimonies from Holocaust survivors.
The launch comes a day before the UN observes Holocaust
remembrance day, marked annually on 27 January.