Israel Electric Company project helps survivors testify

Israel Electric Company project helps survivors testify

Working together with Yad Vashem, the IEC is taking testimonies from retired employees who survived the camps

An Israel Electric Corporation employee working on an electric line. (Roni Schutzer/Flash90)
An Israel Electric Corporation employee working on an electric line. (Roni Schutzer/Flash90)

The Israel Electric Company has joined Yad Vashem to document the experiences of survivors who worked for the Electric Company. During the 1950s and ’60s, the IEC recruited many Holocaust survivors who made their way to the country after the war. Given the fact that many have retired, the IEC decided to record their experiences before they die.

Survivors who got jobs with the IEC “constituted an essential part of the electricity sector in Israel,” the company said. Most of the survivors have not recorded their stories. Working with Yad Vashem, the IEC hopes to find company retirees who have not yet provided testimonies, interviewing and filming them at their homes.

As many as 400,000 refugees from the Holocaust were in Israel by the early 1950s, brought to the country during the postwar years in illegal (pre-1948) and legal immigration efforts. As record-keeping in the early days of the state was spotty at best, it’s not clear how many of the immigrants were able to integrate into the work force during those years, but at least several thousand ended up at the IEC.

The project, called Collecting the Fragments, is set to entail collecting testimonies of Holocaust survivors and documenting their experiences through stills and video photography, the creation of “pages of testimony” at Yad Vashem, which plans to make the testimonies available to the public, and the collection of Holocaust-related items (including uniforms, insignias, papers and photos), part of a Yad Vashem project called Collecting the Pieces. The joint project is designed to document and preserve the heritage of the Holocaust survivors who built the State of Israel, the IEC said.

According to IEC chairman Yiftah Ron-Tal, “the story of the IEC is intertwined with the history of the Jewish people and the State of Israel. Hundreds of IEC retirees who survived the horrors of the Holocaust took part in establishing the utility and infrastructure development of the State of Israel. As a national company, we have a moral obligation to act with all the means at our disposal to strengthen the memory of the Holocaust and its collective memory, which unites us as a society.”

“Despite the odds, Holocaust survivors continued to live their life as usual, instead of drowning in paralyzing grief. On the contrary, survivors continued to work and contribute to all sectors of the Israeli economy. They chose to build a life and were full partners in the construction of Israeli industry and national infrastructure,” Yad Vashem chairman Avner Shalev said.

The IEC said that “in recent years there has been a worrying increase in Holocaust denial and trivialization. Testimonies of Holocaust survivors are eternal proof of the horrors of the Holocaust. Photographic testimony is important for researchers and future generations in Israel and throughout the world.”

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