About Yad Vashem
Visit of Pope Benedict XVI 11/5/2009
- Address by Pope Benedict XVI
- Program of Visit
- Presentation of gift from Rabbi Israel Meir Lau
- Pope Benedict XVI Greets Holocaust Survivors and Righteous Among the Nations
- Letter read during the ceremony
- Photo Gallery
- Visit of Pope John Paul II, 23/3/2000
- Hall of Remembrance
Excerpts from a letter written by Elchanan Elkes,
Williampola, Kovno Ghetto, October 19, 1943
My beloved son and daughter!
I am writing these lines to you, my beloved children, at a time when we have already been here, in the vale of tears, in the Kovno Ghetto of Williampola for over two years. We found out that in the next few days our fate will be decided: The ghetto that we’re in will be cut and shredded to pieces. Only God knows whether we will all be destroyed or whether some of us will remain. In the most difficult moments of our lives, you, my beloved, have always been on our minds and part of our thoughts. During long and dark nights, your beloved mother sits with me, and we both dream about our lives and future.
Our souls yearn to see you again, to hug and tell you once more how attached we are to you and how our hearts pound when we bring up memories of you. And at what time or hour, day or night, my dears, do we not bring them up?
As we stand on the edge of the pit, at a time when “a sharp sword is placed on our necks,” only your picture, my beloved, is before us, and in your faces’ appearance, I see it all.
My beloved Joel!
Be a loyal son to your people. The power of faith is great, and it can transfer and move mountains from their place. Do not look either right or left on your path, my son, go straight ahead. Truth, my beloved, should always be a guiding light. It will guide you and show you the path of life.
Sarah, my beloved daughter,
I rely, my lovely one, on your clear mind and intellect. Don’t live for the moment and don’t ask, as you go on your way, for blooming flowers. They will wither and droop as fast as they’ve appeared. A pure life, a noble life, a life full of content is so full of beauty. The two of you should go together throughout life, attached and holding one another. No distance should separate you and no events of life should come between you.
Remember, both of you, what Amalek has done to us. Remember this and don’t forget it your whole lives, and pass this on as a sacred will to the next generations.
For a moment I close my eyes and picture the two of you standing before me. I hereby hug and kiss you and I tell you until my last breath, that I am your loving father.
On the 8th of July, 1944, the Kovno ghetto was liquidated, and Elchanan Elkes was sent to the Landsberg camp, where he perished on 17 October 1944. His wife and children survived.