Israel's online Holocaust archive published

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Pastor Dale Morgan

Jan 26, 2011, 12:35:25 PM1/26/11
Perilous Times

Israel's online Holocaust archive published

First tranche of Yad Vashem's joint project with Google goes live with 130,000 images posted on a new multilingual site

    * Associated Press
    *, Wednesday 26 January 2011 17.20 GMT

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 said.

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 multiple languages.

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.

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