Writing about the Holocaust on Wikipedia: an intergenerational project
Today, January 27th is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Each year on this date we commemorate the tragedy of the Holocaust that occurred during the Second World War.
Wikimedia Israel’s partners and volunteers, ranging from 8th graders in schools to senior citizens, write about this topic and related subjects on a day to day basis, dedicating a lot of time and effort to it on Hebrew Wikipedia.
The importance of writing and documenting the Holocaust is undeniable, and the fact that Wikipedia is the most popular source of information on the web means the platform has a significant role in preserving this knowledge to future generations.
People from all over the world use Wikipedia to learn about the Holocaust, as attested, for example, by the statistics of the article “Auschwitz concentration camp”, which exists in 82 languages. In 2019 those articles were visited 6,421,262 times, with a big peak on International Holocaust Remembrance Day last year.
1/1/2019 – 12/31/2019
All (139 languages)
To honor this day we would like to share some of the work behind the scenes of each generation creating articles on this topic on Hebrew Wikipedia:
Junior-high and high-school students
Each year, junior-high-school students take part in the “Students Write Wikipedia” program. With the help of their teachers and Wikimedia Israel’s education coordinator, they write articles on topics related to the Holocaust. In 2018, 140 articles were written by the students on various topics, such as Jewish towns that were destroyed, Righteous Among the Nations, athletes and sport in the Holocaust, and Italian Jews.
Lio Beck Highschool- In this Highschool, located in Haifa, the students wrote about Righteous Among the Nations. They visited Yad Vashem, where they got access to the Righteous Among the Nations flies, gathered information (letters, images and more), and based on their research created Wikipedia articles. Yad Vashem has recognized 27,362 Righteous Among the Nations from 51 countries. For about 300 of them, there is now an article on Hebrew Wikipedia.
Yarkon School Seminar-In the summer of 2018, all 9th-grade teachers, and their students (288 students) participated in this project. The subject chosen was the Jewish Holocaust. Therefore, Ohad Tsur (the School history coordinator) contacted the Yad Vashem staff, who were happy to provide him with a team of researchers. The researchers provided him with a list of towns and villages in Eastern Europe whose Jewish communities had been destroyed in the Holocaust, and have no article in the Hebrew Wikipedia. Yad Vashem staff also provided several information sources from the Yad Vashem archive on every village on the list.
Students at a Jerusalem college
As part of the Wikipedia Education Program, students at a Jerusalem college wrote articles about Shtetls that were destroyed in the Holocaust.
When a lecturer at Michlalah-Jerusalem College for teachers, was preparing to give the course Holocaust, Roots and Memory, she wanted to find a way to combine learning with meaningful community work. The result: Wikishtetl – an initiative to create Wikipedia articles about perished Jewish communities. Her students research and identify materials relating to the history, culture, and way of life of the Jewish communities from which their own families originated, and supplement it with personal material like photos from family albums, genealogical information and more.
Wikipedia Editing Course for senior citizens
Over 30% of graduates of our course for senior citizens remain active in the Hebrew Wikipedia community. Some of them are very dedicated to writing about the Holocaust on Wikipedia, often about people they know who took part in saving Jews in the Holocaust. For some, this has some personal connection. For example, the article about Moussa Abadi, a member of the French Resistance who saved almost 500 Jewish kids from France, was written by his niece, Gila, who participated in the program.
75 years after the end of WWII it is clear that the Holocaust is still very much a current topic that interests both young and old. Wikipedia as a platform has enabled people from all walks of life, not just researchers and historians, to learn about the Holocaust, not only by reading on it but also writing and contributing their own work.