The Israeli Holocaust Museum Yad Vashem in Jerusalem is unique not only in its presentation of the horrific facts about the Holocaust but also in providing an eternal reminder of the events which took the lives of 6 million Jews with the focus on individual experiences. Yad Vashem honors those lost through personal testimonials from Holocaust survivors; artifacts saved from that period and photographs. The Yad Vashem Complex also conducts research into the events of WWII; gathers the stories of Holocaust survivors and educates the younger generation with the goal of eradicating anti-Semitism so that this form of genocide will not be repeated.
Yad Vashem is the 2nd most visited tourist site in Israel, it’s situated on the Mount of Remembrance in Jerusalem in the region of Mount Herzl. Yad Vashem is not only a museum in the conventional sense of the word but a large complex of exhibitions, gardens, monuments, archives, libraries and even the International School for Holocaust Studies, Yad Vashem covers an area of 180,000 square meters. In order to truly gain from the moving experience of a visit to Yad Vashem it is essential to visit with a professional guide.
Highlights of Yad Vashem
The Holocaust History Museum is built cutting through a mountain ridge with unique stark architecture enhancing the display of Holocaust artifacts (e.g. piles of shoes, eye glasses and suitcases removed from victims of the gas chambers), photographs and audiovisual presentations. The walk through the building leads towards the Hall of Names where victim’s testimonials are kept and a towering cone is covered with photos of 600 victims and fragments of testimonials. When exiting the museum on the other side of the mountain ridge there is a panoramic view overlooking Jerusalem.
In the Hall of remembrance an eternal flame is a constant reminder of the life lost.
The Yad Vashem Art Museum displays art work produced during the Holocaust (Shoah), the art tells the heart wrenching story of war time survival. There are over 10,000 pieces of art almost all were produced during the Holocaust. Perhaps the most disturbing art work is that made by children during the Holocaust. The Yad Vashem Exhibition Pavilion also displays art but in various interdisciplinary mediums on the subject of the Shoah. Sculptures in the Museum Complex grounds tell the story of anguish and desperation coupled with hope and faith. Outside there is also one of the original train car used to transport Jews to the concentration camps.
The Garden of the Righteous Among Nations commemorates more than 27,000 non-Jews who were instrumental in helping Jews survive during the war. There are trees planted in honor of these righteous gentiles as well as a wall etched with names of the honorees.
The Children’s Memorial at Yad Vashem is within a dark cave, hundreds of memorial candles flicker in the dark while a recording plays of the names, ages and countries of origin of the children lost in the Holocaust of which there were 1.5 million.
The Museum complex also includes a Visual Center, a synagogue and a learning Center. The Visual Center holds a collection of films relating to the Shoah as well as the 52,000 video testimonials of Holocaust survivors.
Whether you’re Jewish or not a visit to Yad Vashem will move you deeply, no other museum will give you such a realistic encounter with this tragic period of recent history and demonstrate mankind’s innate strength of spirit and will to survive against all odds. Together with the sadness which goes with a visit to Yad Vashem comes the triumphant realization that you are visiting this museum in the Jewish Homeland.