This Holocaust Memorial Day, people across the globe will be able to pay tribute to the victims of one of the most ghastly events in human history - all thanks to Google. The internet giant partnered with Yad Vashem museum in Israel to create the world's largest digital archive of holocaust victims.
A collection of 130,000 high-resolution black-and-white and sepia-toned photos as well as documents related to Holocaust victims are now hosted on Yad Vashem museum website. Using experimental optical character recognition (OCR), Google said it has transcribed the text on many images, making them even more discoverable on the web. Visitors to the website can search for names in the archive to retrieve photos and related documents.
To experience the new archive features yourself, try searching for Rena Weiser, the name of a Jewish refugee. You'll find a link to a visa issued to her by the Consulate of Chile in France. OCR technology made this picture discoverable to those searching for her, Google said in a blog post on January 26.
The Holocaust archive was slated for launch on the UN International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which is observed every year on January 27.
The tradition of Holocaust Remembrance Day, which began in 2001, commemorates the anniversary of the Soviet liberation of the Auschwitz death camp in 1945. The day is observed with an intention of getting the world to recall the gruesome genocides as well as the events leading up to and during World War II.
Museum encourages public involvement
Yad Vashem wants visitors to add personal stories about images in the share your thoughts section below each item.
According to Google blog, a fellow Googler, Doron Avni, has already added a story.
He found a photograph of his grandfather taken immediately after his release from a Nazi prison. His grandfather had vowed that if he should survive, he would immediately have his picture taken to preserve the memory of his experience in the Holocaust.
He stitched the photo into his coat, an act that later saved his life. After hiding in the forest for a year, Russian soldiers mistook him for a German enemy, but released him once they saw this picture.
Google aiding worldwide research
The Holocaust archive is not a completely new initiative for Google. In the past, the search engine behemoth was involved in similar projects including digitizing major libraries in Europe, collections at the Prado Museum in Madrid, and the LIFE photo archive.
Stressing on the significance of such campaigns especially for research, Google stated, We're proud to be launching this significant archive that will allow people to discover images that are part of their heritage, and will aid people worldwide researching the Holocaust.