Holocaust Educator to Help Yazidis Document Genocidal Persecution by ISIS
A Holocaust educator will help record tragic stories from the Iraqi-Syrian Yazidi community who survived genocidal persecution at the hands of ISIS terrorists and made their way to Germany, The Jewish Chronicle reported on Tuesday.
Samuel Schidem, a teacher at the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin and Germany’s director of the Israeli relief organization IsraAID, intends to set up a website where survivors can record their stories anonymously, to protect the survivors in Germany and their families back home who remain in danger. The website will be accessible to scholars and humanitarian workers.
According to the report, Schidem is utilizing methods practiced by the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Berlin memorial and others, to create the archive.
“Our work focuses on trauma, so the storytelling should be a kind of empowerment,” said Schidem, an Israeli Druze. “Most people have heard about the Yazidis and individual stories, but the dimension is so big: In every family there is a tragedy, and it is still going on today.”
When ISIS terrorists took control of territory in Iraq in 2014, tens of thousands of Yazidis were trapped, facing persecution, enslavement, rape and murder. Around 30,000 members of the religious minority, which the terrorist organization despises as “devil worshipers,” managed to escape to Germany. The total Yazidi population in Germany is about 150,000, according to The Jewish Chronicle.
IsraAID’s efforts with the Yazidi population in Germany took off with help from the American Jewish Committee (AJC) after its Berlin Director, Deidre Berger, learned that the group was on the ground in northern Iraq.
“Who if not the Jewish people should have a particular understanding for the persecution of the biblical Yazidi minority?” asked Berger rhetorically.
AJC provided financing for several IsraAID projects, and the Central Welfare Council of Jews in Germany contributed when refugees arrived in Germany. Berger said the AJC considers it “of great importance” to help Yazidis tell their story and “to make it better known that an important religious minority is threatened by Daesh with extinction.”
A Yazidi refugee in Germany who wrote a book about her survival will be a recipient of an AJC Voice of Conscience Award on May 4, which is also the eve of Holocaust Memorial Day in Israel and a number of other countries.
Yazidis are predominantly an ethnically Kurdish minority that resided in northern Iraq, before ISIS persecution led to their expulsion and flight — and sparked the US-led airstrikes against the Islamist State terrorists there in 2014.
Their religion is derived from a combination of ancient Persian Zoroastrianism, Christianity and Islam.