[ An End to Intolerance (Volume 5 -- June 1997) ]

These World Wide Web
Sites Can Help You!

By Douglas Frisina
Cold Spring Harbor High School
New York, USA

The Internet was created with the intent for it to become a forum for shared ideas and information. Today that idea has become reality, as the "World Wide Web" now contains millions of sites, on a tremendous variety of topics. The Holocaust has been no exception, as hundreds of sites dedicated to education have been set up. Recently, I viewed several of the more prominent sites on the basis of educational and graphical quality, in terms of speed, and the Web sites' "links" to other sites. (Please note that while there might be some criticism for some sites, this is meant on a purely constructive basis, and each of these sites is deserving of a look.)

[ Doug Frisina ]
Doug Frisina Studies Web Sites

U. S. Holocaust Memorial Museum

The first site I examined was the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum's Web site, which can be reached at: http://www.ushmm.org/. I must admit, I went into this review with great expectations, having been a visitor to the museum not more than three years ago. Luckily, I was not disappointed, as the site seemed to have as much care put into it as the museum does. For starters, the loading time of the Web site was lightning fast, since it contained no pointless home page graphics, simply a very long list of the museum's countless topics. The site was very up to date, being last modified only a week before I visited it.

While the USHMM page seemed at first like it would focus only on the museum itself, I soon discovered that it contained a Holocaust "search engine," a research tool within itself.

Of course, the site is a "must-see" for anyone even remotely interested in seeing the museum in Washington DC, since it contains information on how to arrange visits, and even info about new exhibits at the museum. The information on the site covered a large number of topics concerning the Holocaust, with information on survivors, the camps, and articles on contemporary topics such as neo-Nazism and the Swiss Bank scandal.

"The collection of Photo Archives contains 50,000 images, and spans the period from the end of the World War I to the early 1950s. A portion of these holdings is now being made available to the general public on the Holocaust Museum's Web site."

The museum site's educational value is phenomenal. Along with its contemporary articles, the site's Holocaust search engine is a wonderful research tool. Like Yahoo!, the engine simply requires you to type in the word of the topic you're looking for, and then it will present you with many different summaries and FAQs (frequently asked questions) on what you are looking for. For example, I typed in "Treblinka," and was shown twelve different pieces of information on this concentration camp, including reports done by people across the world and statistics of the killings done there. Right now, a lot of information has been added to the museum site: a searchable data base from the Photo Archives of over 50,000 images, and an online version of the exhibit of the Olympics in Berlin in 1936.

Of course, this information is constantly updated, so there might be even more information for the topics by the time you read this. This search engine was the first of many that I have seen, and it remains a most precise and well constructed one. This site was very impressive, with tremendous amounts of information for anyone who needs it. The page had several links when I examined it, including ones to the Cybrary of the Holocaust and the Nizkor Project, which I have reviewed also. Overall, this excellent site has been the measuring stick for all others I have reviewed.

"Cybrary" of the Holocaust

My second review is that of the "Cybrary" of the Holocaust, which can be reached at: http://www.remember.org/. I had heard a lot of good things about the Cybrary before I visited it and was stunned by what it presented. Quickly accessed on 28.8 bps, the site starts by boasting several links to prominent sites, like Nizkor, Yad Vashem (also reviewed in this article) and the USHMM pages. There was a whole section describing the death camps and another one concerning only survivors. With the Holocaust background out of the way, the site then has its graphical pages, which were quickly loaded and very well constructed. There are also articles, which are split into historical and contemporary topics, and poetry. Most of the contemporary articles addressed situations like revisionism and neo-Nazism, along with the well-known Swiss Bank violations concerning the frozen accounts of Holocaust survivors. The more historical ones concern topics like the Wannsee Protocols, a meeting where the genocide of the Jews and other "undesirables" was outlined and planned. The Cybrary boasts its own search engine, very similar to the USHMM's. Overall, this site is just as good as the United State's Holocaust Museum's being very well put together and very user friendly. It is a must-see for any "'Net-surfer" or researcher.

The Nizkor Project

The Nizkor Project, impressive from the first glance I had of it, can be reached at: http://www.nizkor.org/. First and foremost, this site is all about education. It contains several lengthy FAQs on Auschwitz, the other death camps, and Operation Reinhard, which is an introduction to the death camps. Nizkor also confronts deniers and "revisionism," which is the philosophy that the Holocaust never occurred. Yet Nizkor does not blast the revisionist material and pages on a name-calling basis, but rather provides background information on it and gives the evidence that Nizkor has that the Holocaust happened. This is a very interesting format for a Web page, and it shows the site's interest in contemporary topics. Nizkor has received much feedback from its discussion on revisionism, much of it has been from deniers themselves which have sometimes contained threats. Yet Nizkor has stood behind its position on revisionism and Holocaust denial, and I applaud it. The site also boasts a search engine that is as competent as those presented in the Cybrary and USHMM. Yet it is the database that the engine searches that holds me in thrall. It is a staggering collection of 10,878 files, a total of 529 megabytes, which is an astronomical amount of text-based information to have on a normal computer, much less a Web site! As for links to other sites, Nizkor has a whole separate page of Holocaust sites, but it is attainable only through a Yahoo search for Nizkor, where you will be shown the page. I could not access the page on several occasions for whatever reason, but it is undoubtedly a thing to see. This site has to be one of the strongest ones out there, right in league with USHMM and the Cybrary. Do yourself a favor and check this one out.

Simon Wiesenthal Center

I also checked the Simon Wiesenthal Center Web site, http://www.wiesenthal.com/, and I was very interested in seeing what it would provide. Having been in e-mail contact with the center on my research into hate pages on the Web last year, I was pretty sure what to expect. The Center is a very active organization aimed at attacking neo-Nazism on all fronts, including Internet hate pages. And, the Center also supports a class action suit against the Swiss Banks that failed to return monies and material possessions to Holocaust victims and their heirs. The site loads with ease and presents many events surrounding Holocaust survivors, like reviews and questions on Schindler's List, and even talks about Jackie Robinson's feat of breaking the color barrier in baseball. The Center also supports activities like a passover trip to the Mauna Kea Resort in Hawaii for Jews to celebrate passover together. The site has a very interesting section to it, called CyberWatch, an Internet "hotline," where people can report hatred on the Web. This site also provides people with an opportunity to join the Action Network to help combat racism and antisemitism around the globe. For research, the site provides one with a collection of more than 50 bibliographies on specific Holocaust topics. The library holdings contain a staggering 30,000 books and periodicals, yet accessing them directly is not possible. Perhaps a search engine could be established, though 30,000 texts seems like a daunting task to accomplish. For more information on this archive, you can easily e-mail the resources department of the Center by visiting the site, where e-mail options for all the sections of the Center are presented. The site's educational value is not as strong as the other three sites I have checked out, but it has its strong points in its anti-hate activities.

Yad Vashem

Yad Vashem, the famous Holocaust Archive and memorial in Jerusalem, Israel has its own Web site, which poses exciting possibilities at http://www.yad-vashem.org.il/ Here was a chance for me to access the Yad Vashem library and museum records, arguably the largest archives in the world. At first, the easily loaded site provides the viewer with information on the memorial, including its background and visiting hours. It then lists information on its several smaller museums and memorials, mainly containing art pieces and artifacts brought back from the death camps. Then there is information on an area of the page which is dedicated to Yad Vashem's famous library and research center, where I found details on the library research policy (they charge you to use the facilities in Jerusalem). Perhaps I should discuss why Yad Vashem has such a great amount of resources to be tapped by anyone who wants them. Besides containing thousands of records taken from the death camp offices themselves, Yad Vashem has a tremendous amount of literature and such donated to it by Holocaust survivors and their relatives. The idea of this gold-mine of information being put on the 'Net is very exciting, but apparently very tough for Yad Vashem. The bitter truth is, the library can only be accessed by going to Jerusalem itself. In the future, the site supposes, the information may be attainable on the 'Net. However, while that is a promising venture, until it is realized, the site's educational value is virtually nonexistent. Furthermore, the site boasts not a single link to any other site, which is a crushing blow to its depth.

Anne Frank Online

I also found a rather promising Anne Frank Internet site, http://www.annefrank.com/. Quickly accessed, the site contains a bountiful amount of information and pictures of this young girl and her tragic life. The site contains the Anne Frank Diary, and that in itself is very moving and is a must-read for anyone seeking information on the Holocaust. There is only one problem with this site: the last time I checked it out (April 1997), it was still under heavy construction, with several sections of the site not even up yet. Because of this lack of material, the site comes up rather short for the time being, but hopefully everything will be in order in a few weeks. Compared to some of the other Anne Frank sites I looked at (and believe me, there weren't too many), this site seemed to show the most potential, since the pages the site has up and running are done with care and efficiency. Look this one up in a little while, and I promise you will not be disappointed.

WWW & Holocaust Research

The Internet is tremendous, with thousands of Web sites to access, and it is almost impossible to get to see all of them. With Holocaust sites, there are hundreds, and those are the ones that are listed on search engines only: there could be twice the amount we know of out there. This article just about scratches the surface of the subject. You, the common "'Net-surfer," are the one who needs to go and look for the others. There are so many noteworthy sites out there that deserve a look, you'd be doing yourself an injustice in not at least looking at the ones listed in this article. Remember that the sites reviewed here are some of the more prominent and well-known ones, but so many dedicated to certain parts of the Holocaust, like Roma (Gypsies), or others containing specific material on the death camps, remain unnoticed by the general public. The Holocaust must never be forgotten, in fear of it happening again. And these sites will keep its memory alive, so that our children, and our children's children, will never forget how inhumane our race can be. These sites reveal the true horror of the Holocaust and will remain the grim reminders of what happened. The importance of the sites is that they allow someone who wouldn't able to physically go to a place like the United States Holocaust Museum and Memorial to virtually visit it and access its tremendous databases.

The Internet is going to be around for a long time to come, and it will be the tool of younger generations to learn to think about the Holocaust with the click of a button. If knowledge is power, the Internet is the ultimate forum for people to gather information and discuss their ideas.

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