The sheer monstrosity of what had happened compelled the pioneers to focus on the tangible materials that were left behind. Artifacts that had been saved under perilous conditions helped to create ways of remembrance. Some of these artifacts were prayer books, song books, instruments, photographs and diaries. These personal items formed the base for the development of a culture of remembrance. Some survivors also began to write down their memories. Thus narratives of the past started to develop. In addition, makeshift memorials were created: in many DP camps (Displaced Persons camps) altars were built, around which prayer circles were formed to say a Kaddish for those who had been murdered. In some cases, these memorials outlasted the camps.
Moreover, some of the pioneers of Holocaust research were motivated by an urgent need to assert their humanity in the face of destruction and de-humanization. While working together, a larger community beyond national borders formed. This solidarity also shielded against another moral dimension the Holocaust had brought forth: namely, the averted eyes of the world, the passive complicity in what had happened. The memory of the individuals who had disappeared functioned as an admonition against the silence.