Why a Digital Monument?
According to Jewish tradition, someone ‘lives on’ as long as his or her memory is preserved. Tens of thousands of Jews from the Netherlands were killed in the Shoah, of whom memories are often vague or non-existent. Many children who survived the war have only a very imperfect idea – if any – of what their close family was like; grandchildren do not know what kind of people their grandparents were. It was this blank that inspired the Digital Monument to the Jewish community in the Netherlands: the aim is to provide a picture of the Jewish community, Jewish families and individual Jews on the eve of the deportations. The digital nature of the Monument makes it possible to introduce constant changes and improvements. So the Monument is not ‘finished’; it will continue to grow over the years, with stories, photographs, and references to archives, literature, and other websites.
The Monument has two main objectives. The first is to preserve the memory of Jews in the Netherlands who perished during the Shoah; the second is to enable survivors and other interested visitors to find out more about the victims of the Shoah.
The Monument also has a number of derived objectives:
• to furnish educational material for different school types;
• to stimulate research on the Jewish community in the Netherlands on the eve of the deportations;
• to digitize and thus preserve historical sources.
Who is included in the Monument?
All people who were persecuted as Jews under the Nazi occupation in the Netherlands and who perished during the war are commemorated in the Monument. This includes all those listed in In Memoriam, as well as all Jews who were murdered or died in the Netherlands between 10 May 1940 (the date of the German invasion) and 8 May 1945 (the date of Germany’s capitulation), insofar as any information could be found about them. It also includes people who died of natural causes during the war.
The Monument does not give the names or other details of those who survived the war. Families that survived the war intact, and individual survivors without known relatives, are not listed at all. The Monument does list families of which some members perished while others survived. The surviving members are listed anonymously as ‘surviving child’, ‘surviving spouse’ or ‘surviving relative’. Omitting them would have conveyed an inaccurate impression of the family’s composition. Survivors who lived in institutions (e.g. a Jewish orphanage) are not included, and neither are Jews who were persecuted outside the frontiers of the Netherlands. The Dutch East Indies and other parts of the Kingdom of the Netherlands do not, as yet, fall within the scope of the Monument.