In Yad Vashem: understanding the Shoah

On Friday morning, we took the tramway to go to Yad Vashem, Israel’s official memorial to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust.

We arrived in front of a very modern building made of concrete and built in 1953. It is located in a mediterranean garden. The place looks very quiet from the outside, but inside it is full of tourists! Most of them are visiting in groups, with a guide. They are from all over the world.

We entered the museum. It tells the story of the Shoah (the Hewbrew word for Holocaust). It begins with anti-Semitism in Europe, continues with the rising of Hitler, the first Jewish ghettoes, the death camps, and finally the liberation. Most of us already knew this history, but here it is very well presented: it swhow objects, posters, books, maps, archive movies, and video testimonies from people who lived during this period.

The museum itself has a special architecture: it is made of relatively small rooms, around a long corridor with an open ceiling. So visitors follow a zigzag path, from dark rooms to a very sunny corridor, like a breath of fresh air.

Yad Vashem, the corridor

Yad Vashem, the corridor

At the end of the museum, we entered the Hall of names. It is a round room. There are pictures of people on the ceiling, and a hole with water on the floor. On the walls, there are shelves. On each shelve, there are dozens of files. And in each files, there are Pages of Testimony. A Page of Testimony is written by a relative of a Jew who died during the Holocaust. It contains a name, a picture, and biographical details. Yad Vashem estimates that we still do not have the name of all the people concerned. So since its establishment, its mission has been encouraging people in bearing witness about Shoah’s victims they know. The Hall of names is very impressive, because you can realize how much people died, and how much remains unknown (a lot of shelves are empty).

Yad vashem, the Hall of names

Yad vashem, the Hall of names

In another building, there is the Children’s memorial, in the memory of all the children who died during the war. Visitors enter a very dark room, illuminated with a great number of small lights. They hear a voice saying the name of the children.

This visit in Yad Vashem was very moving for all of us. When we went out of the museum, the blinding sun contrasted with the hard images we had seen inside.

The view from Yad Vashem

The view from Yad Vashem

Yad Vashem, the outside

Yad Vashem, the outside

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2 thoughts on “In Yad Vashem: understanding the Shoah

  1. […] everything is built thanks to donations: universities, research institutes, memorials… […]

  2. […] visiting Yad Vashem, we needed something to cheer us up. So we went to Mahane Yehuda Market to have lunch. Mahane […]

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