German-speakers now have another portal for learning the difficult history of the Holocaust: A new German-language version of the website for Yad Vashem, Israel's official memorial to the victims of that terrible genocide.
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To mark the inauguration of its German-language site, Yad Vashem chose, on International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27, to upload the personal stories of 100 German Jews sent from Berlin to Theresienstadt.
The group, of which only 18 survived, departed Berlin just a few kilometers from the Axel Springer building at 65 Axel Springer Street. This building now houses the offices of the well-known German media conglomerate that publishes many newspapers including Bild, the most widely read daily newspaper in Europe, and Die Welt, which is considered pro-Israel.
The last journey of this group of Jews was documented and commemorated in a research project entitled "Transports to Extinction," a database of the transports during the Holocaust. "Transports to Extinction" is now online and in German.
“Over the years, we’ve been working to deepen and expand teaching the Holocaust in Germany and increase the amount of documentation there," said Avner Shalev, chairman of Yad Vashem’s Directorate of the The Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority. "Putting up the website in German is another way to commemorate the Holocaust for posterity."
It took about a year and a half to prepare the German-language website. Yad Vashem’s Internet department worked on it with help from translators recruited for the project and academic consultation from Professor Guy Miron of the Schechter Institute.
The website contains lesson plans about the Holocaust for teachers, online exhibits and interviews with survivors. It also offers lectures in German by well-known researchers, including high-ranking historians from Israel and abroad such as Yehuda Bauer, Michael Brenner, Gotz Aly, Christoph Dieckmann and Frank Bajohr.
German-speaking Web surfers will find content developed specifically for them, including exhibits about Kristallnacht and the deportation of Jews to the east. The website also contains archival footage that describes Jewish life in Germany before, during and immediately after the war and a retrospective about Jewish life in the Displaced Persons camps. There is also a central database, in German, of the names of Holocaust victims.
The construction of the website was made possible by a donation from the Berlin-based Friede Springer Foundation, which is named for the widow of Axel Springer, the German journalist and publishing magnate. The website was inaugurated this week in Berlin on the centenary of Ernst Cramer, a senior German-Jewish journalist and close friend of Springer who died in 2010 at the age of 97.
Imprisoned in Buchenwald in 1938 and released on condition that he emigrate, Cramer went to the United States. His sister also escaped, but their father, mother and other siblings were murdered in the Holocaust. Cramer joined the U.S. Army and was sent to Europe as a soldier in 1942. He took part in the invasion of Normandy and the liberation of Buchenwald. In 1948 he became a journalist and worked for Die Welt, one of Springer’s best-known newspapers, until the day he died. In Berlin this week, his two daughters were on hand at the ceremony marking the launch of Yad Vashem's new German site.
The new German-language website joins Yad Vashem’s other foreign-language websites in English, Spanish, Russian, Farsi, Arabic. In 2010, the websites received about 10 million visits from surfers in 220 countries, most of whom visited the English-language website. The Russian-language website received 713,000 visits, the Spanish-language site 357,000, the Arabic-language site 115,000 and the Farsi website 47,000.