The Book of Names

The Book of Names is one of the largest records of the victims of genocide that exists in the world today. It consists of thousands of pages listing millions of people who died in the Holocaust.

The Book of Names is housed at the Auschwitz Memorial in Poland in a room where Jewish people were once known only by a number. This was during World War 11 when Poland was ruled by Nazi Germany and the Auschwitz-Berkinau concentration camp was a place where over a million people were exterminated.

Each name listed in the Book of Names belongs to, an individual person. Yet they were stripped of their humanity and treated like dirt, just because of their faith.

Their possessions were confiscated, clothes and shoes taken, their heads shaved and they were squeezed into overcrowded huts where they faced starvation, disease and despair. Furthermore, their name was replaced by a number tattooed onto their body. They had become a nothing, a nobody.

Clothed in the notorious blue and white stripped prison uniforms they were used as slave labour, until they could work no more and were sent to the gas chambers, where their fragile, emaciated bodies were incinerated in Hitler’s ovens.

The Book of Names

The Book of Names is inscribed with the names of all known individuals identified to have fallen victim to the Holocaust. It contains 4.2 million names in 16,084 pages. An estimated 1.8 million people remain unidentified.

As you can read on one of the displays at Auschwitz, “The six million Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust have no graves and no tombstones. The physical extermination was accompanied by the deliberate, sweeping erasure of the memory of each individual.

“With the assistance of partners around the world, Yad Vashem, Israel’s national authority for the remembrance of the Holocaust and its victims, has undertaken the vast and complex task of collecting and documenting the names of the murdered.

“Their names are collected through Pages of Testimony submitted by family members and by researching lists from archival sources. As of 2013 more than four million names have been collected and our collective efforts continue.”

Visiting the Book of Names is a very moving experience as many people have discovered including Jewish families exploring their heritage. See: Tears at Auschwitz… Out of unbearable sadness comes joy

I found it reassuring to see this memorial at the Auschwitz memorial, after many hours of walking past row upon row of wooden huts where Jewish people were imprisoned and seeing the ruins of the gas chambers and many exhibits that were hard to stomach including a massive collection of shoes. The Book of Names memorial reminds one that every person has a name and every life has value.

For Christians we know there is another massive book of names in Heaven. It is called the Book of life. In Luke 10:20 we read that we should “rejoice that your names are recorded in Heaven.” And, in Revelation 3:5 we read: “He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.”

Our names are so important to God, our Creator who doesn’t want anyone to perish. Like our Jewish brothers and sisters whose names are recorded in the book of names, let us be sure our names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

Also read: After visiting Auschwitz…

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