In honor of Holocaust Martyrs and Heroes Remembrance Day, marked in Israel on Thursday, Yad Vashem expanded its Internet presence this week by opening an online database containing nearly two-thirds of the 200,000 photos in its archives.
Earlier this week, Yad Vashem launched two YouTube sites. The English version includes sound bites from President Bush and French President Nicholas Sarkozy on their visits to the memorial.
“I would hope that as many people in the world come to this place, it would be a sobering reminder that evil exists and a call that when we find evil we must resist it,” President Bush says.
The YouTube clips also includes short video testimonies of survivors, among them Zanne Farbstein. She and her two sisters were among 1,000 women who were the first Jews to arrive at the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland.
Auschwitz was the Nazis’ largest concentration camp. It is estimated that up to 2.5 million people were murdered or died there.
“I worked sorting clothes and I found Father’s prayer shawl. There were five crematoria. They burned day and night. Transports kept arriving and there was no room in the crematoria, so the children were thrown into pits and burned – little children…Alive!” Farbstein recalled in one video.
“We were all sick, so we would drag each other to work. Until one morning my older sister Edith said: ‘You know what? I can’t go on any more. Enough!’
“I cried. I shouted. Nothing helped. I had torn shoes. She had good shoes. She said to me, ‘Let’s exchange shoes.’
“So we went to work. When we returned, she was no more,” Farbstein said. She and her other sister were in Auschwitz together for three years, waiting for death every day, she said. “That was the worst part: the fear.”
Farbsten says she never would have believed that she could live a normal life – marrying and having children and grandchildren. “Sheer joy!” she says.
You can find the photo archive here.