Theme Week West Jerusalem – Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority

Saturday, 19 September 2015 - 01:00 pm (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, Museums, Exhibitions, Union for the Mediterranean
Reading Time:  7 minutes

Aerial view of Yad Vashem © Godot13/cc-by-sa-3.0

Aerial view of Yad Vashem © Godot13/cc-by-sa-3.0

Yad Vashem is Israel’s official memorial to the victims of the Holocaust. Established in 1953, Yad Vashem is located on the western slope of Mount Herzl on the Mount of Remembrance in Jerusalem, 804 meters (2,638 ft) above sea level and adjacent to the Jerusalem Forest. The memorial consists of a 180-dunam (18.0 ha; 44.5-acre) complex containing the Holocaust History Museum, memorial sites such as the Children’s Memorial and the Hall of Remembrance, The Museum of Holocaust Art, sculptures, outdoor commemorative sites such as the Valley of the Communities, a synagogue, a research institute with archives, a library, a publishing house, and an educational center named The International School/Institute for Holocaust Studies.

A core goal of Yad Vashem’s founders was to recognize gentiles who, at personal risk and without a financial or evangelistic motive, chose to save their Jewish brethren from the ongoing genocide during the Holocaust. Those recognized by Israel as Righteous Among the Nations are honored in a section of Yad Vashem known as the Garden of the Righteous Among the Nations. After the Western Wall, Yad Vashem is the second most-visited Israeli tourist site. Its curators charge no fee for admission and welcome approximately one million visitors a year. The name “Yad Vashem” is taken from a verse in the Book of Isaiah: Even unto them will I give in my house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off” (Isaiah 56:5). Naming the Holocaust memorial “yad vashem” conveys the idea of establishing a national depository for the names of Jewish victims who have no one to carry their name after death. The original verse referred to eunuchs who, although they could not have children, could still live for eternity with the Lord.

The goals of Yad Vashem are education, research and documentation and commemoration. Yad Vashem organizes professional development courses for educators both in Israel and throughout the world; develops age-appropriate study programs, curricula and educational materials for Israeli and foreign schools in order to teach students of all ages about the Holocaust; holds exhibitions about the Holocaust; collects the names of Holocaust victims; collects photos, documents and personal artifacts; and collects Pages of Testimony memorializing victims of the Holocaust. Yad Vashem seeks to preserve the memory and names of the six million Jews murdered during the Holocaust and the numerous Jewish communities destroyed during that time. It holds ceremonies of remembrance and commemoration; supports Holocaust research projects; develops and coordinates symposia, workshops and international conferences; and publishes research, memoirs, documents, albums and diaries related to the Holocaust. Yad Vashem also honors non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust.

The International School/Institute for Holocaust Studies at Yad Vashem, founded in 1993, offers guides and seminars for students, teachers and educators, and develops pedagogic tools for use in the classroom. Yad Vashem trains 10,000 domestic and foreign teachers every year. The organization operates a web site in several languages, including German, Hebrew, Farsi and Arabic. In 2013 Yad Vashem launched an online campaign in Arabic, promoting Yad Vashem’s website. The campaign reached over 2.4 million Arabic speakers from around the globe, and the traffic to Yad Vashem’s website was tripled.

Hall of Names © David Shankbone/cc-by-sa-3.0 Pillar of Heroism © Berthold Werner Righteous Among the Nations Avenue © EdoM/cc-by-sa-3.0 Valley of the Communities © EdoM Aerial view of Yad Vashem © Godot13/cc-by-sa-3.0 Eternal Flame and Concentration Camp Victims Memorial © Mrbrefast/cc-by-sa-3.0
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Eternal Flame and Concentration Camp Victims Memorial © Mrbrefast/cc-by-sa-3.0
Yad Vashem opened to the public in 1957. The exhibits focused on Jewish resistance in the Warsaw ghetto, the uprisings in Sobibor and Treblinka death camps, and the struggle of survivors to reach Israel. In 1993, planning began for a larger, more technologically advanced museum to replace the old one. The new building, designed by Canadian-Israeli architect Moshe Safdie, consists of a long corridor connected to 10 exhibition halls, each dedicated to a different chapter of the Holocaust. The museum combines the personal stories of 90 Holocaust victims and survivors and presents approximately 2,500 personal items including artwork and letters donated by survivors and others. The old historical displays revolving around anti-Semitism and the rise of Nazism have been replaced by exhibits that focus on the personal stories of Jews killed in the Holocaust. According to Avner Shalev, the museum’s curator and chairman, a visit to the new museum revolves around “looking into the eyes of the individuals. There weren’t six million victims, there were six million individual murders.”

The Hall of Names is a memorial to the 6 million Jews who perished in the Holocaust. The main hall is composed of two cones: one ten meters high, with a reciprocal well-like cone excavated into the underground rock, its base filled with water. On the upper cone is a display featuring 600 photographs of Holocaust victims and fragments of Pages of Testimony. These are reflected in the water at the bottom of the lower cone, commemorating those victims whose names remain unknown. Surrounding the platform is the circular repository, housing the approximately 2.2 million Pages of Testimony collected to date, with empty spaces for those yet to be submitted. Since the 1950s, Yad Vashem has collected approximately 110,000 audio, video and written testimonies by Holocaust survivors. As the survivors age, the program has expanded to visiting survivors in their homes to tape interviews. Adjoining the hall is a study area with a computerized data bank where visitors can do online searches for the names of Holocaust victims.

Yad Vashem houses the world’s largest collection of artwork produced by Jews and other victims of Nazi occupation in 1933-1945. Yehudit Shendar, the senior art curator of Yad Vashem, supervises a 10,000-piece collection, adding 300 pieces a year, most of them donated by survivors’ families or discovered in attics. Included in the collection are works by: Alexander Bogen, Alice Lok Cahana, Samuel Bak, and Felix Nussbaum.

Here you can find the complete Overview of all Theme Weeks.

Read more on Yad Vashem, Jerusalem Post, 3 April 2019: Borussia Dortmand, German companies donate to Yad Vashem expansion and Wikipedia Yad Vashem (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




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