Researchers plan to deploy AI to identify forgotten names of Holocaust victims

  • Yad Vashem employs AI to uncover identities of Holocaust victims from 230 million text documents.
  • Aim to memorialize over 5 million names by 2029.
  • AI enables sorting and cross-referencing documents, expediting identification process.
  • Collaboration with experts vital for AI model accuracy.
  • Successful AI tool links previously unknown survivor to historical records.
  • Exhibition project highlights ongoing efforts to remember Holocaust victims.

Main AI News:

The World Holocaust Remembrance Center (Yad Vashem) is embarking on a mission to uncover the identities of victims previously lost within a staggering archive of 230 million text documents. Over the next few years, Yad Vashem aims to memorialize over 5 million names, as reported by UNN citing the Times of Israel.

In this era of advanced technology, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center is leveraging artificial intelligence to sift through vast troves of historical documents in order to unveil the names of victims previously lost to anonymity. By harnessing AI capabilities, the museum, aptly named “Yad Vashem,” which translates to “memorial and name” in Hebrew, endeavors to shed light on those whose identities were once obscured.

Artificial intelligence stands as a pivotal tool in this monumental task, enabling the sorting and cross-referencing of millions of documents to unveil long-forgotten details. The utilization of AI allows for intricate connections to be made within Yad Vashem’s extensive archive, connections that would be impractical for human researchers to discern due to time constraints and sheer volume.

Simmy Allen, spokesperson for Yad Vashem, emphasized the museum’s commitment to employing artificial intelligence in this vital endeavor. “AI aids us in meticulously reviewing evidence and bringing to light names that have languished in obscurity until now. While human intervention has been indispensable thus far, the integration of AI significantly expedites the process,” remarked Allen.

Director of the Shoah Yad Vashem name recovery project, Alexander Avram, elucidated on the ambitious goals set forth by Yad Vashem. “Over the next three to five years, Yad Vashem aspires to memorialize more than 5 million names. However, as time distances us from the events of the Holocaust, our task becomes increasingly arduous,” acknowledged Avram.

Prior to the implementation of AI at Yad Vashem, researchers faced the challenge of configuring the AI model to effectively categorize the names listed in wartime documents, explained Roth. “Our initial endeavor involved deciphering the intricacies of Named Entity Recognition (NER) and Relation Extraction databases. To ensure the efficacy and precision of our model, extensive collaboration with Yad Vashem’s subject matter experts was imperative,” detailed Shira Roth from the Information Technology Department.

In an exemplary showcase of AI’s potential, an award-winning tool developed by Roth and her team yielded remarkable results in the case of a Holocaust survivor previously known only as Svailakh, a veterinarian from Lithuania. Avram recounted, “Svailakh, believed to have been married to Eta Grudzanski, was tragically killed in 1941 in Yurbarkas.” The pivotal breakthrough came through survivor Menachem Lichtenstein’s testimony, which referenced a man named Peter Svailach married to a woman named Ethel. Through meticulous analysis, the AI tool successfully linked the Grudzinski family to Svailakh, providing closure to their story.


Yad Vashem’s utilization of AI technology to identify lost names of Holocaust victims signifies a significant advancement in Holocaust remembrance efforts. By leveraging AI’s capabilities to sift through vast archives of historical documents, Yad Vashem aims to bring closure to countless families and preserve the memory of those who perished. This initiative not only serves a humanitarian purpose but also highlights the potential for AI to facilitate meaningful contributions in historical research and commemoration efforts. As technology continues to evolve, such initiatives may pave the way for similar applications in other fields, underscoring the transformative impact of AI in preserving and honoring collective memory.