Yesterday (though I didn’t get around to reading it till today) I got a message on Charley’s Facebook page from none other than Yad Vashem, a museum and center for Holocaust research in Israel. Probably THE greatest one of its kind in the world. I’d love to visit there someday; in fact I’d put it on my list of top ten travel destinations.
Anyway, Yad Vashem is attempting to put together an online database of “Pages of Testimony” (that is, data sheets, they look a little like census forms) for every single person who died in the Holocaust. Obviously that’s a pretty huge project and one they’ve been working on for a very long time, since the sixties I think. They have about four million people in this database so far, if you discount duplicate entries. I’ve spent many an entranced hour looking at the individual entries, trying to puzzle out a story out of the information provided.
Members of the public are allowed to contribute. Many of them are relatives of those lost; others are researchers. I myself sent in a dozen or so Pages of Testimony a few years ago, for people whose names I’d come across in the nearly 500 Holocaust books I’ve read. I’d pretty much forgotten all about my submissions until now.
Anyway, the Yad Vashem employee who contacted me wanted to know if I was the Meaghan Good who had sent in the Page of Testimony for a certain individual. I confirmed that I was — I don’t specifically remember sending that entry, but my name and address were on it. The YV person wanted to know if I had any more information about this person. The Page of Testimony had only her name, year of birth, and the place and manner of death.
Alas! I did not. But I am a bit wowed that someone from this wonderful institution would contact me in the first place. It made my day, actually. And I’m pleased that Yad Vashem has been following up on their Page of Testimony submissions.
(Another Page of Testimony related tidbit: a year or two ago I wrote up an Executed Today entry which hasn’t run yet for a young man who was executed in a German concentration camp. I read an account of his death in a Holocaust memoir written by someone who’d witnessed it. I found a Page of Testimony in the Yad Vashem database, submitted by the dead man’s cousin — but his cousin apparently didn’t know how or when he died, only that he had not survived the Holocaust. The sheet included the cousin’s name and address in Illinois. I thought: would it be too forward to write to the man and provide an account of his relative’s death? Would he want to know or would it just upset him? It turned out to be a moot point because a Google search revealed that the cousin had died several years before. I’m still not sure what the proper course of action would be, though.)