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Daimler, Deutsche Bahn, Deutsche Bank, Volkswagen and Borussia Dortmund have each pledged large financial donations to the center. The money will be invested in a new space to house the museum's growing archive.
German companies Daimler, Deutsche Bahn, Deutsche Bank, Volkswagen and soccer club Borussia Dortmund announced Tuesday that they would donate €5 million ($5.6 million) to the Yad Vashem World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem.
The companies view their effort as "a clear sign of our solidarity with the victims of the Holocaust, and as our responsibility, past and future, in the fight against racism and anti-Semitism."
Yad Vashem houses the world's largest collection of artifacts from the time of the Holocaust, and in light of the significant increase in objects donated to the institution, new space will now be created for the archiving, research and restoration of those objects.
'Commemorate, document, research and teach'
The aim of the expansion is to secure and protect the museum's collection so that it can be handed down to future generations. Construction of the new 4,200 square-meter (45,000 square foot) Shoa Heritage Collections Center is scheduled to begin on August 1, 2019.
Since its founding in 1953, Yad Vashem has endeavored to collect the names of every victim of the Holocaust, as well as all information and objects that it can in an effort to explain to the world the fate of six million Jews murdered during the Holocaust.
"Commemorate, document, research and teach — these are the foundational pillars upon which Yad Vashem rests. It is our honor and obligation to strengthen them. Coming generations must be taught of the suffering that one group of people can inflict upon another. We are thus committing ourselves to understanding between nations, tolerance, and peaceful coexistence," the companies announced in Berlin.
The chairman of the German Friends of Yad Vashem, former Bild newspaper editor-in-chief Kai Diekmann, said that he was "wholeheartedly" overjoyed over the five companies' commitment "to preserving the memory of the Holocaust and the commemoration of its victims for future generations."
Giving victims back their voice
"The Nazis not only tried to exterminate Jews, they also sought to erase their identity, their memory, their culture and their legacy," said Avner Shalev, chairman of Yad Vashem's board of directors.
Shalev said: "For many, the only things that remained were artworks, personal belongings, photographs and documents kept safe under the most difficult of circumstances and then given to Yad Vashem to immortalize the stories of their creators and owners. The conservation and exhibition of this intellectual and spiritual inheritance will allow the Shoa Heritage Collections Center to give victims back their voices and identities, ensuring that they are never forgotten."
The German Friends of Yad Vashem was founded in Frankfurt in 1997 and is now based in Berlin. As part of an international network, the association seeks to support Yad Vashem's work to commemorate the Holocaust, learn from the lessons of that period, and keep those memories alive in order to keep them from being forgotten, passing them along to future generations.
Yad Vashem's massive archive is comprised of some 500,000 photographs, more than 11,500 artworks, more than 32,000 artifacts, over 130,000 documented eyewitness accounts, and some 210 million pages of written documents from the time of the Nazi persecution of the Jews.
More than one million people visit Yad Vashem each year.
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