Yad Vashem is the Holocaust History Museum and Israel’s memorial to the victims of the Holocaust.
It is dedicated to preserving the memory of the dead, honoring Jews who fought against their Nazi oppressors, and Gentiles who selflessly aided Jews in need.
Established in Jerusalem in 1953, Yad Vashem has become the most visited site after the Western Wall.
While I mention most of what there it is to see further down, there are also a number of memorials worth noting.
Yad Vashem is created in a way to not to overwhelm you by the horrors. If you are looking for a place where you can connect emotionally, you should also see the Chamber of the Holocaust.
See the Yad Vashem website for visiting hours and how to get there. Entrance is free.
There is also a has a kosher meat cafeteria which offers hot meals as well as a coffee shop.
There is a free shuttle to and from the Mount Herzl Military Cemetery and the Herzl Museum.
The Holocaust History Museum
The Holocaust History Museum has nine underground galleries tell the story of the Holocaust from the point of view of the Jews.
It is shaped as a spike cutting through the mountain protruding through the mountain ridge facing into the Jerusalem Forest.
The museum’s architecture creates an intense atmosphere for the nine galleries.
The galleries portray the complexity of the Jewish situation during the Holocaust and branch off the spike-like shaft.
The exhibits incorporate a wide variety of original artifacts, testimonies, photographs, letters, documentation, art, multimedia, and video art.
They emphasize the experiences of the individual victims through original artifacts, survivor testimonies, and personal items found in the camps and ghettos.
At the end of the Museum is the Hall of Names.
It is repository for the Pages of Testimony of millions of Holocaust victims as a memorial to those who perished.
The Pages of Testimony are symbolic tombstones filled out by survivors in memory of their loved ones, and preserved in the Hall of Names.
It contains over three million names, along with personal details, of victims of the Holocaust that were submitted by survivors in memory of their loved ones.
In an ongoing effort to collect more names before it is too late, Yad Vashem asks the public to assist in building the memorial and archive.
Visitors are able to search through the records.
Hall of Remembrance
The Hall of Remembrance allows visitors to pay their respects to the memories of the martyred dead.
On the floor are the names of 22 Nazi murder sites – extermination and concentration camps, transit camps and killing sites – chosen from the hundreds of murder sites that existed throughout Europe.
A memorial flame burns continuously, next to a crypt containing ashes of victims brought from the extermination camps.
The children’s memorial
This memorial, hollowed out from an underground cavern, is a tribute to the approximately 1.5 million Jewish children who perished during the Holocaust.
Walking through the memorial, the visitor will hear the names of murdered children, their ages and countries of origin in the background.
The Memorial to the Deportees
The Memorial to the Deportees is a railroad car hanging over the cliff on the road winding down from the mountain.
It is a monument to the millions of Jews herded onto cattle-cars and transported from all over Europe to the extermination camps.
An original German cattle-car given to Yad Vashem by the Polish authorities stands at the center of the memorial site.
On the adjacent wall, the testimony of survivor Avraham Krzepicki is inscribed.
Wall of Remembrance
The Wall of Remembrance is located in Warsaw Ghetto Square.
The large Square is the location of the State of Israel’s official opening ceremony of Holocaust Remembrance Day each year.
There stands the red brick Wall of Remembrance.
It is a tribute to the bravery and spirit of the Jewish ghetto fighters, who audaciously and against all odds, stood up to the Nazis an unprecedented uprising.
This monument echoes the artists double-sided Ghetto Heroes monument erected in 1948 in Warsaw in the place where the Jewish uprising started.
It comprises two central elements.
The first, a low relief titled “The Last Journey,” depicting Jews led to their murder.
The second, the “Warsaw Ghetto Uprising” sculpture, representing the heroism of the fighters.
The biblical quote “In thy blood, live” (Ezekiel 16:6) connects the two main components of this site, thus conveying a message of the Jewish people’s continuity.
The Museum of Holocaust Art
The Museum of Holocaust Art, inaugurated is located in Yad Vashem’s Square of Hope.
The Museum’s rotating permanent exhibition displays some 120 works of art.
Many of the works of art on display were created in ghettos, camps, forests, and while in hiding.
They depict the reality of life during the Holocaust, but at the same time provide a glimpse into the inner world of the artist.
Through their art, they reasserted their individuality and their will to live.
All the artworks testify to the power of the human spirit and its refusal to surrender.
Most of these works were created during the Holocaust itself, or before the war by artists later murdered in the Holocaust.
Each piece is accompanied by biographies of the artists who produced them, so that the exceptional context of their creation may be understood.
The display reflects the extraordinary creativity of Jewish artists during the Holocaust, who left powerful visual testimonies, enabling us to honor their memory today.
The Exhibitions Pavilion displays a wide variety of historical, thematic, and art exhibits.
An important aspect of it is photography.
It focuses on the circumstances of the photograph and the worldview of the photographer.
For the Nazi German regime, photography and film-making played a crucial role in propaganda and documentation.
Jewish photography, on the other hand, was a component in the struggle for survival of the Jews imprisoned in the ghettos.
It is a manifestation of underground activity to document and transmit information on what was happening to them and their people.
These Jewish photographers give different and unique viewpoints as direct victims of the Holocaust.
The Allied armies also documented what they found.
They understood the necessity of photographing the camps they liberated.
Official photographers were brought in and soldiers were encouraged to document the Nazi horrors as evidence for future war crimes trials.
All items on display are replicas of the originals.
The Yad Vashem synagogue serves as a memorial to the destroyed places of worship of European Jewry.
It serves as a place where visitors can say kaddish for and where individuals can gather in silent prayer.
The Synagogue at showcases 31 items of Judaica from Destroyed Synagogues in Europe including four Torah Arks.
All four arks are from Romania. In addition, there are ritual articles from Poland, Greece, Transnistria, Germany and Slovakia.
It was created as a “testimonial to the indestructible faith, the rich spiritual world of European Jewry and the extraordinary will of the Jewish people to survive, to remember and to rebuild.”
The Visual Center
The Visual Center enables visitors to view Holocaust-related visual materials on large or personal screens.
These include documentaries, feature films, and survivor testimonies taken by Yad Vashem and other organizations.
Prominent among these is the Visual History Collection of the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation.
Here, approximately 62,000 survivor testimonies are available for viewing
The center is also focused on collecting additional films and developing its database of detailed information about all films produced about the Holocaust.
Thousands of films have been cataloged in the Visual Center’s database, and more than half of them are currently available for viewing at the center.
The primary objective of the Visual Center is to create the leading portal for scholars, students, filmmakers, and the general public to view and access information about Holocaust films.
The Learning Center
The Learning Center allows visitors to explore historical, thematic, and moral dilemmas and issues related to the Holocaust.
Through directed and independent learning, computer stations provide access to a wide range of information from internationally recognized historians, philosophers, and Yad Vashem’s knowledge base.
The Learning Center is open to organized groups, independent groups, and individuals.
Avenue of the Righteous Among the Nations
Trees have been planted around the Yad Vashem site in honor of those non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust.
Plaques adjacent to each tree record the names and countries of origin of those being honored.
Over 2,000 trees have been planted.
Valley of The Communities
The Valley 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.
In the center of the monument stands Beit Hakehillot, which houses a gallery for temporary exhibitions.
Visitors can also see a short film there, depicting the world that was.