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138,000 Holocaust-related photos now online, powered by Google and Picasa

Yad Vashem, Israel's official memorial to Holocaust victims, in partnership with Google, has just created what can only be described as the definitive online Holocaust archive. The collection consists of 138,327 images, most of which are photos.

The collection, which represents a few years of full-time work by a handful of Googlers, has been made available just in time for the UN International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which is today. If the immense, digitized archive wasn't enough, the Google team went one step further and used OCR to transcribe any text found on the objects, which means that passports, visas and other notes can be searched for using a normal Google search. Google gives the example of searching for rena weiser, which returns her Chilean visa -- and obviously, any families searching for relatives that may have been part of the Holocaust will find this invaluable.

Because the collection seems to be based on Picasa galleries, all of the usual social functionality is built-in. You can comment on photos, and you're encouraged to share stories if you find the photo of someone you know. The only problem is that navigation of the archive seems to be a hit-and-miss affair -- there are just thousands of albums, and they're all unsorted.

Tags: google, holocaust, holocaust remembrance, HolocaustRemembrance, israel, media, nazi germany, NaziGermany, news, web, world war II, WorldWarIi, yad vashem, YadVashem