The need for an up-to-date approach to the future of the Holocaust and revival heritage, was clarified after a deep observation in the way the Holocaust was perpetuated in Israel and abroad, and in its development over the years.
The State of Israel has set a goal of documenting the events of the Holocaust and heroism, while preserving those for future generations. Many resources have been invested in implementing this goal through various bodies, including universities, research institutes and private and state institutions. More than 2.5 million of memory items, such as letters, certificates, photos, objects, journals, and testimonies that survived. The Holocaust Survivors documentation foundation was founded by director Steven Spielberg, collecting photographic testimonies of over 50 thousand survivors in life that year (1990), and they are located at the “Yad Vashem” museum in Israel.
The sources written for the documentation of these years include many personal memory books written by survivors. The books of the testimonies published in different languages, are a primary valuable source. Already In 1944, published in Israel was the first-handed testimony to the murder, and there it was first renamed the disaster which commanded the Jewish people as “the Holocaust.”
The historiography of the Holocaust and heroism and the way it is developed in Israel, is characterized by dynamic, conceptual heterogeneity and ongoing debate between historians, researchers and survivors. One of the reasons for this is the gaps in the perception of the events between historians and researchers, as well as between them and the survivors, who cling to personal memory and their subjective perception of the events. For them, what transferred through memory is what their soul have given the most meaning, and therefor should be preserved.
In the World
In the last two decades we have witnessed a slow and meaningful change in World War II events perception, which is manifested in museums around the world. The subject is presented on the axis between the uniqueness of the Jewish people’s Holocaust, and the issues of genocide as a more general human phenomenon. The Holocaust Museum in Washington, for example, holds the exhibition with the fixed name:
“A changed World: The continuing impact of the Holocaust”, a name that holds three vertebrae – past, present and future, and not another spotlight on the past alone. In this spirit, the Holocaust Museum in Washington gives a universal expression to the connection of the Jewish people’s context: all the victims of the Nazi regime, gypsies, Poles, homosexuals, prisoners, and so on, are treated as well as phenomena of genocide in the world, and responses to them. Genocide, one of the most complicated and urgent problems in the world, is happening now in many areas of the world. The public response (or lack of response) for genocide and denial of individual rights is a relevant issue, both in the context of the Holocaust and in the broader contexts of future commemoration.
The historical questions relating to the uniqueness of the Jews Holocaust, as well as the similarities to the events of other genocides, exist. Opinions are divided and supported in arguments on both sides. For example: The Armenian killing of the Aotmanit Empire during World War I, is like the destruction of the Jewish people in Europe during World War II? is the systematic killing of Jews in the Holocaust the same as in other times of history (for example, the Crusades in the 11th century, the expulsion of Spain in 1492, or the pogroms in Russia at the turn of the 20th century) during which many were massacred? Should the murder of Jews by the Nazi oppressor, be distinguished from the murder of other ethnic groups in countries that were dominated by them in those years? Or did all forms of violence, bloodshed, and human suffering during the Nazi reign, be one great holocaust that washed Europe and the world at the same time?
Many historians hold that the Holocaust is indeed an extraordinary case, for the world has not predicted before, in a similar journey of destruction: a systematic killing spree that included a clear and obvious design, the absence of an emotional element in the decision to assassinate all Jews, with a strict execution and practice. Indeed, it was agreed in the literature that the Holocaust was a unique case of systematic persecution and destruction – an state-level organized Nazi Germany and its partners in the years 1933 – 1945.
Nowadays, the global trend as it is expressed in museums and archives around the world, is to give a place alongside the uniqueness of the Jewish Holocaust, to the common lines and lessons that humanity can derive from. This is the conceptual platform from which the museums build and design their messages about their perspective of the commemoration, and transfer of knowledge for future generations. Thus, the background of these trends is to ensure the preservation of the Holocaust commemoration in future generations, as it must be made relevant.