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About the Memorial Site

 

First of all, let me say something personal…

It isn't easy to turn a human story into a website that is open to all. It is even less easy to do so when referring to a group of 23 members, who differ from each other in how they remember the events and in the story they relate. The distance of time does not always sharpen memory, and in the final analysis the editors of the website have to decide what will be placed on the website and to what degree. Many decisions are made while working on the website, and arguments can be made for and against every one of them.

Each time that we searched for pictures for the new website in the archives, we were forced to contend with the dilemma of whether to insert the pictures of atrocities (as the entire archive is full of such pictures). After lengthy deliberations we decided not to place such pictures on the website, not because they have no connection to the subject, but because we feel that we are bringing a kind of story of childhood to the site, children whom the circumstances forced to cope with the atrocities. We hope that this story will also be read by children, and we don't want to confront them with pictures of atrocities. In addition, our experience has taught us that such pictures tend to overshadow the story for the viewer, and it is the story that we want to tell.

An additional dilemma we faced was how much historical information to include. After lengthy discussions we decided to limit it in order not to distance the story from the viewer. We always tried to find a way to provide the reader with the information required to understand the story and the circumstances leading to its occurrence, but nevertheless not to cause the story to become lost. Factual information can be found in any history book and on every website, but the story of the group can't be found elsewhere.

Despite the difficulty, we tried to touch on and relate, not to teach or preach. We have attempted to tell you one story, one out of the many that this terrible period has supplied us.

 

What did the Website Grow Out Of?

In 1998 Moshe Kravetz began to search for a framework for passing on his story and the story of the 131 boys from Kovno (of whom he is one) to the future generations. During his search he told his unusual story to the staff of Yad LaYeled museum at the Ghetto Fighters' Museum, and to the students and teachers of Har Vagai School. These three factors, Moshe Kravetz, Yad LaYeled and Har Vagai School, joined forces and began to start the wheel turning. The process was a long one, and during it the students interviewed the survivors from the group and began to document all possible material. Tome-like papers were written about the group of 131 boys from Kovno. Conversations began to progress. In September 1999 the student, accompanied by eight members of the Kovno group, even went on a journey and retraced the route the group had taken during World War II. The journey reopened stories that had not yet been heard and released the emotions of those who had buried them for fifty years. These emotions that were let out of the bottle enveloped everyone, both survivors and students. Memories were dredged up and related. During the journey we were already in the middle of constructing the website, but in the wake of the journey it was completely altered – from an almost historical website, to a website of narrative and emotions, to the extent that this is possible.

 

We would like to thank the following people and bodies:

א     All the children of that time, the witnesses of today, who revealed their story and opened their hearts and emotions  to us; who took us with them to the realm of their childhood and made us vow, albeit unconsciously, to continue telling the story.

א     All the students who worked day and night, and many more nights, in order to find all possible information, every document, every fragment of a story, and took it all and created a wealth of written, photographed and filmed documentation – and this website. They have also revealed their emotions to us.

א     The staff of Yad LaYeled, among them Shlomit Dagan-Deri and Tali Shner, who provided mentoring, backing and support, and helped tie all the threads together.

א     The staff of Har Vagai School, among them Sophie Ben-Artzi, who took on the project with great emotion, while providing support, help and a shoulder to this entire commemoration project, and Riva Meno, who provided invaluable support and help.

א     Pini Yaron, who documented the entire project and journey on video. For the product of all this here, on the page explaining the film "When Children Remember".

א     All the people who lent a hand in any way – and the server is too small to contain. We would all be pleased to receive your responses, comments, stories and questions.

 

"Their memory will be a sign and testimony for us for all eternity."

Israel, 2001

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