A list of confirmed names of Jews killed by the Nazis in the Second World War has reached the four million mark, Israel’s Holocaust museum
announced, saying the identity of all six million dead may never be known.
“It is a moral imperative, an obligation for us to retrieve information and commemorate each and every
individual who perished,” said Avner Shalev, chairman of the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial and Museum in Jerusalem. “By doing so, a lot of important material comes up in our research to help combat
Yad Vashem has sorted through “millions of occurrences of names” over nearly six decades of research and
taking testimony from survivors.
Announcing the organization had confirmed the identities of four million of the Jews who perished, Mr.
Shalev said he doubted the names of all six million would ever come to light, although he stressed the figure is still accurate. “I don’t see that we will get to every last name,” he said, noting
the difficulty of verifying the deaths or survival of small children, and other unrecorded victims executed or carted off to death camps across Europe during the war.
Israel's Holocaust memorial says it has now identified four million of the six million Jews who were killed
by Nazis in the Holocaust of the Second World War.
Yad Vashem has made the recovery of the names a main mission in order to keep the memory of the murdered
Yad Vashem, founded in the early 1950s, has redoubled its efforts to identify the victims in the past few
years, partly to counter detractors such as Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who publicly deny or question whether the Holocaust took place.
Mr. Shalev said the four million names Yad Vashem has verified so far is double the number the institution
had confirmed as recently as 1999. In 2004, it launched a database of victims' names on its website. It had three million names at the time and since then has been compiling the names of other
victims. Yad Vashem says names are recovered through people who remembered the murdered Jews and by combing archival lists and other documentation.
The task is especially difficult because entire families were wiped out and documents were destroyed during
the Nazi genocide.
Advances in computer technology have speeded up the process of identifying victims, along with an
increasing flow of information from Eastern Europe where most Jews on the continent perished.
Mr. Shalev said he hoped researchers would identify at least five million of the victims within a few
He said the six-million death toll is based largely on census tallies from before the war of Jews who lived
in specific towns and cities from where most were deported to death camps or otherwise executed.
Many of these lists have been in turn checked against millions of pages of survivor testimony taken over
the years and prisoner records, among other archive material at Yad Vashem’s disposal.