“Operation Pick Up the Pieces”, is the name of a national campaign to save personal items from the Holocaust. The Yad Vashem Institute has undertaken the project together with the Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Senior Citizens.
As part of this national campaign, Yad Vashem officials hope to collect documents, certificates, diaries, photographs, artifacts and artwork from the Holocaust, which are currently in the hands of private individuals throughout Israel.
“This is a rescue operation which is trying to pick up objects and documents along with their stories so they are not lost,” said a spokesman for Yad Vashem. “The purpose of the campaign is to accelerate the collection in Israel and work to transfer as many Holocaust items as possible to Yad Vashem for safekeeping for future generations.”
Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev emphasized the importance of the campaign and said that “personal stories that are told through artifacts, artwork, diaries, letters and postcards, add a significant dimension to Holocaust education and commemoration. Much of what we are doing today at Yad Vashem, including our work in the fields of education and research, is based on this documentation. That is why we encourage people who might have in their possession items related to the Holocaust to bring them to Yad Vashem so that we can keep them for future generations.”
“We know that many survivors and their families have personal documentation that is not known and not accessible to the public,” added Yad Vashem’s Archives Director Chaim Gertner. “Many of the owners of those records are not aware of the importance of the materials in their possession and of the need to preserve them in a professional manner. At Yad Vashem they will be well protected and be accessible to the general public.”
As part of the campaign, Yad Vashem will call on anyone who obtained original items dating from before the war, the Holocaust, liberation, and life in the displaced persons camps to give them to Yad Vashem for safekeeping. Once the materials are collected, they will be preserved, digitally cataloged and made accessible to researchers, exhibition curators, educators and the general public.
Several collection days are planned to take place throughout the country. Information on these collection days will be published in the media through radio broadcasts, newspaper ads, online banners and a special television broadcast that will air during Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day). As well, a telephone hotline will be set up to answer inquiries and to accept requests for delivery of materials.
News of the campaign comes right after Yad Vashem marked the passage of 50 years since the trial of Adolf Eichmann by uploading footage of the entire trial to YouTube.
Yad Vashem has increased its presence on the internet recently, having published names of Holocaust victims online as well as a collection of photographs from the Holocaust. Most recently, Yad Vashem launched a YouTube channel explaining the Holocaust in Farsi.