makeshift ink flag in Eilat, March 1948 (The Cabor Archives, Lavon
must follow my route. It is the only one for the Jewish people, for
the Jewish people's fate lies in its own hands." Abba Naor
wrote these words in a letter to his father upon leaving for
Palestine three months after being liberated from Dachau. Abba Naor
was one of nearly 70,000 Holocaust survivors who arrived prior to
May 1948 in what was then Palestine. With the establishment of the
State and until 1951, an additional 300,000 Holocaust survivors came
to Israel as part of the massive aliyah wave. A black-and-white
photograph of Abba Naor alongside a copy of his letter to his father
introduce the exhibition, "Under This Blazing Light:
Holocaust Survivors in Israel: The First Decade." The
exhibition is located in
Yad Vashem's Art Museum.
exhibition, which consists primarily of old photographs, posters,
artifacts, a documentary film and audiovisual presentations, takes
the visitor back in time, starting from 1945, to the birth and first
steps of the State. The exhibition conveys the atmosphere and
feeling in Eretz Yisrael at that time. Several thematic sections
portray the survivors' various experiences from the moment of
their embarkation to Israel: the arrival, the search for missing
relatives, the War of Independence, the settling of the land, Youth
Aliyah and also, the new Israeli culture and the commemoration of
away from the exhibition area one cannot stop thinking of how these
people, who went through hell, had the energy, strength and will to
return to life and to live, learn, fight and act towards the
establishment and building of the State of Israel.
November 1947 (The JNF Archives)
inscription "The Door to the Land Opens from Within"
appears atop a round bulletin board, whose surface is covered by
posters of the time. A poster signed by the Union of Hebrew Workers
in Eretz Israel dated May 1, 1945 depicts men and women, their
clothes marked with the yellow star, walking away from a camp shaped
in the form of a swastika. The poster reads "Aliyah and
redemption in the homeland."
Bureau for Missing Relatives
The Jewish Agency's Search Bureau for Missing Relatives, which was
established in 1945, assisted survivors and Israel's pre-war
residents of European extraction in the search for their families
via special radio broadcasts. Three old wooden radios and an
assortment of handwritten letters dated around 1945 illustrate the
survivors' efforts at tracing their missing relatives - efforts
which were only too seldom successful.
survivors suppressed their life stories for years, while others
spoke of their experiences immediately and were engaged in shaping
the memory of the Holocaust in Israel. In 1953 the Holocaust
Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance-Yad Vashem Law was passed. The
Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day, established by law
in 1959, was the result of the survivors' initiative and effort.
neighborhood for immigrants in the Negev, January 1952 (The Central
survivors settled throughout the country. Some were helped by
relatives, some joined kibbutzim and moshavim, and some lived in
cramped transit camps. There were those who, with great
organizational capacity and initiative, started new agricultural
settlements that gave rise to dozens of moshavim, creating a new
unrecognizable Israeli landscape in a short period of time.
most well-known Israeli cartoon, was created by a Holocaust
survivor, Gardos Kariel Dos.
Daber Ivrit" -"Jew, Speak Hebrew"
The reconstructed public notice boards of the 50s exemplify the
cultural pluralism and mutual influence between those already living
in Israel and recent arrivals. From the moment of arrival,
immigrants integrated into the local spheres of politics, culture,
security, arts and entertainment, and participated in shaping the
new Israeli identity. A Council for Culture, established in 1952,
worked for legislation of the Language Instruction Law.
Whole Nation is the Army
Many myths surround the recruitment of Holocaust survivors to the
war effort. The most famous myth is that of Holocaust survivors who
had just disembarked from the ships and were sent off, strangers and
estranged as they were, to the battlefields of Latrun, where they
fell nameless. In actuality, out of a total of 43 casualties that
fell in the Latrun battle, 15 were Holocaust survivors. Holocaust
survivors constituted about half of the fighting force in the second
phase of the war that started on May 15, 1948, a day after the
Declaration of Independence of the State of Israel.