A Compendium of Online Resources for Holocaust Research

Photograph of the Hall of Names memorial at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, Israel.
The Hall of Names at Yad Vashem. (Public Domain)

Every writer has the responsibility of understanding what it is they are writing about. Biographers and memoirists are tasked with corroborating the personal narrative of their subjects with verified facts, documentation, and external perspectives. An author of historical must have a good sense of the time period their book inhabits: everything from global phenomena to the details of daily life has some bearing on who the novel’s characters are, how they behave (and why), what the world around them looks like. And if you’re telling the story of your own relatives, ancestors, or personal acquaintances, you’ve probably already discovered that memories and family lore will only get you so far.

As always, revisiting your articulated motives for writing about the Holocaust will help you assess what kind of research is needed and determine which resources will best assist your work. We’ll talk more about why historical research is critical to any writing project about the Holocaust, even (if not especially) for works of fiction. Here’s a list of online archives to get you started, with directions for how to use and access them:

Yad Vashem

National Library of Israel

KTIV: The International Collection of Digitized Hebrew Manuscripts

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Digitized Yizkor Bicher

Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America

Additional Resources:

Arolsen Archives

Center for Jewish History Ackman & Ziff Family Genealogy Institute

Encyclopedia Judaica (1972, revised, 2006)

International Jewish Cemetery Project

Jewish Encyclopedia (1906)

Leo Baeck Institute

Shoah Foundation

YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe

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So you want to write about the Holocaust…