GIVING A FACE TO THE FALLEN
"Giving a Face to the Fallen" is a not-for-profit organization whose goal is to memorialize those who have fallen in various military operations in the course of the establishment of the State Israel and during the Israeli War of Independence of 1948.
Among its various activities, it is involved in exploring and completing the details of the lives of those individuals whose tombstones lack basic information and whose life stories are relatively unknown. This project is undertaken in the belief that we have a duty to remember and in so doing to in some way help repay the debt we owe to those who gave their lives for the establishment of the State of Israel.
Out of a list of 861 names of "unknown" fallen soldiers and about whom there exists little information in the files of the Israeli Defense Ministry and the Israeli Defense Forces, we have "solved" the biographical details of over 100. As a result, for some of them a new tombstone has been made to replace the old one.
Most of the fallen were European immigrants who arrived alone to Mandatory Palestine. Because of the Holocaust, they were sometimes the last remaining members of their families. Some were immigrants from neighboring Arab countries. Some of the casualties have the status of "missing in action" and with no tombstone to mark their final resting place. In many of these cases, the information gathered by our researchers represents their only memory and monument.
The project "Giving a Face to the Fallen" was founded in 2013 by Uri Sagi and Dorit Perry, with the assistance and co-operation of the Israeli Defense Ministry (Department for the Commemoration of Soldiers) and, later on, the "Yad Lebanim" organization. The project's activities are funded through charitable donations.
All 28 of the project's researchers are volunteers.
The Scope of Our Activity
- Completion of the documentation of the life stories of soldiers who fell in Israel's military operations and whose tombstones and mini-biographies on the Israeli Ministry of Defense memorial website are seriously lacking in information. Among the missing details may be names of the parents, date and place of birth, personal photo, etc.
- Assistance to the "Eitan" Unit of the Israeli Defense Forces, responsible for locating soldiers "missing in action". Our researchers help to find living family of the missing soldier in order to obtain DNA samples necessary to identify remains that are discovered.
- Help in arranging memorial ceremonies for fallen soldiers who were the last of their families as well as in arranging memorial ceremonies requested by family or friends of fallen soldiers.
- Memorialization of fallen soldiers through the production of albums, booklets and school programs.
- Location of graves of fallen soldiers for families residing in Israel or abroad, and who, for whatever reason, have lost contact with the fallen soldier's place of burial or the fallen soldier's family.
- Help in the location of family members of the soldier upon request from Israel or abroad.
- Assistance to families in refurbishing the "civilian tombstones" of family members who fell in military operations in pre-State Israel and who are interred in non-military cemeteries.
The voluntary organisation "Giving a Face to the Fallen" ("Latet Panim Lanoflim") receives assistance from many archives throughout Israel, too many to name individually, but we would like to especially acknowledge the following resources:
“MyHeritage”, headed by Mr. Gilad Yifat through whose assistance our organisation's website was established. Their staff diligently respond to each enquiry and their generosity is very much appreciated.
The Central Zionist Archives, who assist us with locating historical information and documents, constitute a critical link in our research on the life stories of the fallen soldiers.
The Israel Genealogy Research Association (IGRA), which has made available to us their collection of a broad variety of documents which are vital in our research.
To Mrs. Susan Edel, from the Red Cross Organization, who has always been ready to efficiently direct all our queries to the International Tracing Service (ITS) archive of the Red Cross.
To the Organisation ‘Yad LaBanim”, and its head, Mr Eli Ben Shem, and its Managing-Director, Mrs. Rachel Laniado - both of you have proved to be firm partners in perpetuating the memory of Israel’s fallen soldiers.
To the Israel State Archives, the Palmach Museum, and the Haganah Archives, to Yad vaShem, Bintivey Ha'apala, the Israel Defense Forces Archives, the Jabotinsky Archives and all the Archives in the various Kibbutzim and cities who are always so gracious in lending their assistance – to all of you, please accept our heartfelt thanks.