Memorial books have a number of forms and uses, but, for much of the world, the term Memorial Books has a very important meaning: Memorial Books (also known as Yizkor Books) are special books that document the lives of Jewish people who lived in towns ravished by Nazi’s in the years leading up to World War II. These memorial books, according to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC, “often contain photographs and stories about the town and the people who lived there, as well as listings of the town's residents. These books are almost always written in Hebrew or Yiddish.” Hundreds, or possibly even thousands, of memorial books have been published over the years, most recording the people and events in a particular town or region of Europe during the Holocaust. These memorial books are exceedingly important for those who currently live in the regions (although, in many cases, entire towns were forever destroyed during the Holocaust), those who survived the holocaust, and those who lost family members in the horrific period. Most memorial books contain a thorough list of Jewish people who lived – and died – in the particular region or town during the holocaust, and, in many cases, these lists are the only surviving written evidence that some holocaust victims ever lived. (Such was the terrible efficiency of the Nazi machine at its unspeakably evil attempts to wipe out all sign that the Jewish people ever existed.) These memorial books often have very interesting, if grim, histories in their own right. Many memorial books were published shortly after World War II ended after being compiled in a clandestine manner by people who were, themselves, trapped in concentration camps. Others, however, were published much later – even as late as the 21st century – by people who were born after (or at the very end) of the holocaust and went through significant trouble to document the experience of the region in which they – or their relatives -- grew up. The famous memorial books are all, whatever their circumstances, an important contribution to our world’s literature and to our understanding of just what can happen when evil is allowed to run amuck in our world.
All of that said, memorial books, do have a number of other important forms and uses. Many funeral homes and other memorial industry institutions have begun, in recent years, offering memorial books as part of the traditional memorial services. In these memorial books, professional designers and editors gather special artifacts – newspaper clippings, letters, photographs, etc. – and assemble them in a elaborately designed, glossy publication (in some cases also called a memorial folder) that family members can use to remember their lost loved-one for the ages. These types of memorial books have become more common in recent years as print-design software and hardware has become more readily available and, accordingly, less expensive. Many companies also now also offer “electronic” memorial books that contain the same information as their printed counter-parts, but which are presented in video format using digital recording technology.
Memorial books are an important way for every person’s memory to be recorded permanently in history!
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