A view inside a prisoner barracks in the former Nazi death camp of Auschwitz Birkenau or Auschwitz II in Oswiecim, Poland, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019. On Jan. 27, 1945, the Soviet Red Army liberated the Auschwitz death camp in German-occupied Poland. Auschwitz was the largest of the Germans’ extermination and death camps and has become a symbol for the terror of the Holocaust. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
UPDATED 10:12 AM PT — Tuesday, January 21, 2020
As the 75th anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz approaches, a Holocaust memorial center is working on connecting the past to the present with the help of new technology.
The “Face to Face” program, which is run by the Shem Olam Holocaust Memorial Center, connects descendants of Holocaust victims with the stories of what happened to their families. It uses facial recognition technology to identify people in photos from that time period and track their movements throughout the war.
The program’s director, Avraham Krieger, hopes to provide comfort for families who still don’t know what happened to their loved ones. He said “Face to Face” is aimed, first and foremost, at giving some response to “the chaotic reality created following the Holocaust.”
A man walks beside photos of the exhibition ‘Survivors – Faces of Life after the Holocaust’ at the former coal mine Zollverein in Essen, Germany, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. The world heritage landmark Zollverein shows 75 years after the liberation of the Nazi death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau, 75 portraits of Jewish survivors, photographed in Israel by German artist Martin Schoeller. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
“We think that the reality of the Holocaust is only the reality of six million Jews who were murdered, but it’s not so,” said Krieger. “It’s a reality that cut off any connection for those who survived, almost any connection to their past and not only for them, but also for their future families.”
So far, the center has received thousands of photos from archives around the world and has begun matching those pictured to their families.