Holocaust Museum Helps Survivors, Families Complete Their Histories

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The Holocaust Museum is unveiling a new project aimed at helping people learn about their personal history. Once the World Memory Project is complete, it'll be the largest online database for information on victims of Holocaust and Nazi persecution. (Published Thursday, May 12, 2011)

    Freddie Traum, 82, still gets a strange sensation in his stomach when he looks at his parents’ deportation papers.

    They were victims of the Holocaust and forced to leave Austria. When he was 10, Freddie and his sister were sent to England. His parents were later taken to a concentration camp and killed.

    “They’d just shoot everybody and so that was what happened to my parents,” he said.

    The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum unveiled the World Memory Project, aimed at helping people learn about their personal history. When it is complete, it will be the largest online database for information on victims of the Holocaust and Nazi persecution.

    Volunteering there, Traum found the paperwork, which helped him write a part of his history he never knew.

    “It did give me a date of death,” he said. “It also gave their birthdate, which I was never quite sure about.”

    Traum feels for the victims, survivors and their families that still have questions.

    “People like to know what actually happened,” he said.

    Enter the World Memory Project.

    “It’s about preserving the identities of the victims who the Nazis tried to erase from history,” said Lisa Yavnai, director of the Holocaust Survivors and Victims Resource Center.

    The museum and its volunteers are just starting to put millions of documents from the museum archives online so that they can be searched by anyone, anywhere. You can download the software online and transcribe the records into a database -- usually at least the first and last name, date of birth, and place of birth.

    The work that’s been done in the past week alone would take the museum staff years to do without the help of 1,400 volunteers from all over the world.

    “Not everyone has the opportunity to come here,” Traum said. “Now they’ll be able to do it on the computer from anywhere and I think it’s a wonderful opportunity.”