In this edition, the web mobilises on the occasion of International Holocaust Remembrance Day and the blogosphere comments on guided tours to LA gang land.
Holocaust remembrance day
January 27 was decreed Day for the Victims of the Holocaust and Prevention of Crimes against Humanity by the UN in 2005. Ever since, the web has rallied each year for this day of remembrance.
The UN website, dedicated to the event, recalls that memories can help us prevent making similar mistakes in the future, and it remarks that it is the current generation which must bear this torch. Many documents have been made available to net users, such as this interactive encyclopaedia of the Shoah.
And online resources about this black period of history are numerous. The Yad Vashem memorial site posts archives, which are mainly photographic in nature. It also offers a data base allowing users to look for Shoah victims with their name.
The Shoah memorial posts video testimonies by escapees online. Here Charles Baron gives his account. As a child he passed through seven camps before arriving in Birkenau, where his parents died and where he just managed to avoid the gas chambers.
‘Upon arrival in Birkenau, something distinctive was the smell. I must have a vivid imagination, but even today I sometimes feel like I can smell that place. The smell of death, dirt, you can’t imagine what it was like, it’s hard enough for me to describe.’
Los Angeles gang tours
Visiting dangerous Los Angeles neighbourhoods and meeting gang members: this is the offer made by US company, L.A Gang Tours. An initiative which seems to be enjoying great success but which baffles some members of the blogosphere.
The stated aim of the L.A Gang Tours creators is to humanise ‘hostile neighbourhoods’ and encourage investment- capable of bringing employment to the districts. For 65 dollars, tourists can visit Los Angeles prison or tour the Florencia 13 gang’s territory.
And several videos filmed during guided tours are circulating online to offer a taster to tourists of what they will be able to see. Videos in which some residents of these difficult neighbourhoods explain how positively the initiative is being received.
Despite this, some, such as this female blogger, denounce a project they describe as treating the residents of these neighbourhoods as animals. She feels the tours are like zoo trips, the only difference being that it is humans who are being stared at.
It is the same story with this second female net user who describes a voyeuristic initiative exploiting human misery.
Meanwhile Los Angeles’ gangs remain a scourge. The police web site recalls that at least 250 gangs are active in the city and boast more than 26 000 members.