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JERUSALEM – The German government on Thursday handed Israel’s national Holocaust memorial the personal details of 600,000 Jewish residents of Nazi Germany, the most comprehensive record to date of German-Jewish life during the Nazi era.
German Culture Minister Bernd Neumann presented the directory during a ceremony at the Yad Vashem memorial, saying that it allowed for the first time to show the Jewish residents of Germany from 1933-1945.
“But this list is much more than a list,” Neumann said. “It is a unique document about life in Germany and tells the story of those who could not tell their own story.”
Neumann, whose responsibilities include German commemoration of the Holocaust, said he hoped the list would “restore to these victims part of their honor.”
The ceremony took place in the Hall of Names, a cone-shaped room whose walls are lined with bookshelves containing folders upon folders of pages of testimonies about the Holocaust victims. Yad Vashem currently has records on 3.3 million of the 6 million who perished and continues to collect archival material from around the world.
The new directory includes the names and addresses of the Jewish residents and classifies them into those who survived, those who perished and those whose fate remains unknown. The list includes details on emigration, detention and deportation, as well as where and when people died.
“This list adds to our understanding of what happened to the Jews in Germany,” said Yad Vashem director Avner Shalev. “Every new piece of information allows us to piece together the story of individuals and communities during the Holocaust.”
With this latest list, Yad Vashem has essentially completed its database on German Jewry
during the Nazi era, Shalev said.
Its focus will now turn to compiling a similar database on the Jews who lived in Poland and eastern Europe, an extremely difficult task because of poor record-keeping, large-scale executions and mass destruction of villages.
“We are nearing the point where we will reach the limit of extracting human memory,” Shalev said. “It’s a scary point, because beyond it everything will be lost.”
It took 20 German scientists four years to compile the directory and cost $2.24 million. It was presented to German Chancellor Angela Merkel a few weeks ago and she instructed Neumann to hand over a digital copy to Yad Vashem.
Around 2.5 million data records were collected from more than 1,000 sources, including Jewish and Nazi archives, according to “Remembrance, Responsibility and Future,” the German foundation that produced the directory together with the German federal archives.
Following Yad Vashem, the records will also be made available to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, the Jewish Claims Conference and the International Tracing Service in Bad Arolsen, Germany.
The list is not being made public. It is subject to strict German data protection laws, given that it has names of people who are still alive.
“It is a memorial to those murdered and those forced into exile. The shame for the crimes committed by the Germans is mixed with grief for the loss that Germany inflicted upon itself,” said Martin Salm, the chairman of the foundation.
“The murderers wanted to eradicate the Jewish people and Jewish identity. They did not succeed,” Salm said.
Associated Press – October 23, 2008
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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