From Yom HaShoah 2020, to Yom HaShoah 2021 the memory of the victims went into various digital formats. Reached new audiences and parts of the world, but at the same time often got disconnected from the powerful message of the memorial sites in which the history happened and victims are buried. Digital formats are an opportunity but also a challenge. Without the decades of work in preservation and documentation of authentic sites and history of the victims, the digital world would have nothing to show or talk about now. Nothing to process into the immortalizing digital world.
The territories of the German Nazi death camps in Poland are not available now to any visitors. Within April 2020 and April 2021 there were only couple of months when the visitors were admitted to the grounds of the museums in Poland. Those admissions were organized keeping all the sanitary restrictions and largely limited to individual visitors exploring the sites on their own.
The number of visits to Auschwitz-Birkenau museum in 2019 exceeded 2.3 million. In 2020, this number dropped into 500.000.
Holocaust education is a process of acquisition of knowledge, skills and values. Those are becoming foundation for out morals and believes. It is a process involving rational, fact based approach, communication skills and emotions. I believe that those harmonize the best and leave a lasting memory effect when realized at the historic sites of Auschwitz-Birkenau, Majdanek, Treblinka, Sobibór, Bełżec or Chełmno. Or educated at one of the thousands of sites dotting the European landscape and representing a map of early stages of discrimination, dehumanization, ghettoization, transportation or murder and burial.
This is another Yom HaShoah when we are prevented from exploring those sites in Europe, but there are thousands of others globally and often close to your home or school. Monuments, graves of survivors, commemorative plaques, places which physically exist and often wait to be rediscovered with an act of active memory. Active memory not mediated by the computer screen.
Using the digital means let us point our attention today to the sites and stories.
I have produced the film “A Lonely March from Auschwitz to Birkenau” in 2020 at the eve of the pandemic shutdown to mark the Yom ha Shoah and International March of the Living. It brings the visual of sites and stories of Auschwitz.
The film “What happened with humanity in Treblinka” was produced for Yom HaShoah 2021.