Even unto them will I give in mine 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.” Book of Isaiah.
Yad Vashem means in Hebrew ‘a place and a name’. The idea of this was brought to life during the Second World War. After the State of Israel was established, the government enacted the law of Yad Vashem as a Remembrance Authority. According to the law, the official role of Yad Vashem, back in 1953, was to collect information about the victims, to conduct research about the Holocaust and to present it to the public, using different methods: museums, archives, school, publications and exhibitions. Today Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, has one of the leading Holocaust memorial museums in the world, an international school for Holocaust Studies, a comprehensive Holocaust Archive and serves as the ultimate source for Holocaust education, documentation and research. Students and history teachers come from all over the world to participate in a variety of educational programs.
The Holocaust History Museum combines the best of
Yad Vashem’s expertise, resources and state-of-the-art
exhibits to take Holocaust remembrance well into the 21st
century. The Holocaust History Museum occupies over 4,200
square meters, mainly underground. Both multidisciplinary
and interdisciplinary, it presents the story of the Shoah from
a unique Jewish perspective, emphasizing the experiences of
the individual victims through original artifacts, survivor
testimonies and personal possessions.
One of the basic guidelines for the museum’s design
was to create a visitor’s route dictated by the evolving narrative, with a beginning, middle and end.
A central 180-meter walkway (prism) was built with
exhibition galleries on either side.
Between the exhibition galleries are impassable gaps
extending along the breadth of the prism floor.
These gaps constitute a physical obstacle, guiding the visitor
into the adjacent galleries, yet always enabling eye contact
with either end of the prism. The prism is therefore a longitudinal
axis of historical memory, crossed by the visitors as they move
from one gallery to the next and from one subject to another.
The Holocaust History Museum ends with a special room
called the Hall of Names. The main circular hall houses
the extensive collection of “Pages of Testimony” –
short biographies of each Holocaust victim.
Over two million Pages are stored in the circular
repository around the outer edge of the Hall, with room
for six million in all.
In the back there is a small room with computers
where the visitors can search for a certain name or
a community. The ceiling of the Hall is composed of
a ten-meter high cone reaching skywards, displaying 600 photographs and fragments of Pages of Testimony.
This exhibit represents a fraction of the murdered six million men, women and children from
the diverse Jewish world destroyed by the Nazis and their accomplices.
The victims’ portraits are reflected in water at the base of an opposing cone carved out of
the mountain’s bedrock.
Yad Vashem’s collection of Holocaust art is the largest
and most wide-ranging collection in the world.
It comprises some 10,000 works, most of them from the Holocaust period.
This collection focuses primarily on artworks created during
the Shoah. Creating art during the Holocaust meant risking
one’s life at a time when the materials needed were almost
non-existent, and many of the artists were on the verge of
collapse — physically and mentally — without access to even
the most minimal essentials of daily life.
In spite of all this, the piece was created, and sometimes managed to survive even when —
as was mostly the case — the artist did not.
The campus of Yad Vashem contains several other monuments.
All of the trees were planted in honor of the righteous among
the nations. The non-Jews who acted according to the most
noble principles of humanity by risking their lives to save Jews
during the Holocaust. Each and every tree has a name of a
righteous. Another famous monument is the Hall of
Remembrance, where all of the official ceremonies are held.
Inside the hall the memorial flame burns continuously, next to
a crypt containing ashes of victims brought from the
The valley of communities is a massive 2.5 acre monument literally dug out of the natural bedrock.
The names of over 5,000 Jewish communities that were destroyed or barely survived
in the Holocaust are engraved on its 107 walls. The unique children’s memorial is a tribute to the
approximately 1.5 million Jewish children who perished during the Holocaust.
Entrance to Yad Vashem is Free. An Audio Guide
is available for visitors to the Holocaust History Museum in the
Hebrew, English, Arabic, French, German, Spanish and Russian.
Headsets can be rented at the Audio Guide desk,
next to the Information desk in the Visitors’ Center.
Hire fee: 25 NIS per headset.
Every Friday, at 10:00 am, there is an guided tour open to
the public: “History, Memory and Personal Stories Converge
at Yad Vashem”- Visit the Holocaust History Museum, watch survivor testimonies,
view personal diaries, artifacts and works of art, and be inspired by the many moving
stories woven into the chronology of one of the darkest periods in the history of mankind.
Cost: 32 NIS per person.
For more information: http://www.yadvashem.org/
From The Post Hostel you can take the tram to Mount Herzl stop. From there you can walk
or wait for the shuttle bus to the visitor center.
Entrance to the Holocaust History Museum is not permitted for children under the age of 10.
Babies in strollers or carriers will not be permitted to enter.
All photos courtesy of Yad Va shem.