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Today, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and Ancestry.com announce the launch of the World Memory Project. The goal is to build the largest free online resource for information about victims and survivors of the Holocaust and Nazi persecution during World War II.
The Museum’s archives contain information on well over 17 million people targeted by Nazi racial and political policies, including Jews, Poles, Roma, Ukrainians, political prisoners, and many others. The Museum assists thousands of people worldwide every year that are searching for information about individuals in its collections. The World Memory Project will greatly expand the accessibility of the Museum’s archival collection and enable millions of people to search for their own answers online.
“The Nazis’ genocidal policies quickly turned millions of individual lives, filled with hopes and dreams, into massive statistics that are hard to comprehend. Through our partnership with Ancestry.com, we hope to remind the public that the Holocaust is not about numbers but about individuals just like us and to help families uncover histories they thought were lost,” says Sara J. Bloomfield, Director, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. “The Museum’s vast archives contain documentation that may be the only remaining link to an individual life. Preserving these personal histories and making them available online is one of the most powerful ways we can learn from history and honor the victims.”
Despite the Nazis’ efforts to erase human history, millions of their victims’ experiences were recorded in documents that still exist today. The World Memory Project enables anyone to help bring the information from these documents online – one record and a few minutes at a time – to help families discover the fate of lost loved ones and forge new connections that transcend war and time.
That is where you come in. The World Memory Project is a component of the Ancestry World Archives Project (AWAP), which we started a little over three years ago to help preserve records for generations, plus make them free and accessible online. It’s easy to get involved – anyone with a keyboard, a little time and an interest in helping preserve history can input information from the documents for the World Memory Project. And the indexes you help create will be available, searchable and online, free, to anyone at any time. You’ll find details about contributing as well as simple instructions for “keying” the records at http://worldmemoryproject.org.
Even a few minutes of your time can help families discover what happened to their loved ones and restore the identities of people the Nazis tried to erase from history. The power of truth is in your hands.