Bearing Witness: Stories Behind the Artifacts in the Yad Vashem Museum Collection

Chess Sets, a Brief Respite from a Harsh Reality

Preserved in the Artifacts Collection of Yad Vashem's Museum are approximately twenty chess sets that were used by Jews during the Holocaust. Some were crafted during the war, others were made before the war and taken with Jews who were deported from their homes. Playing chess helped to alleviate the suffering of Jews and allowed them a few brief moments of relief from the hunger, the cold and the fear, temporarily easing their loneliness and sense of isolation.

Chess set that belonged to Lupu (Ze'ev) Credinciosu who died on the "Death Train" that left Iasi in June 1941
Chess set that belonged to Lupu (Ze'ev) Credinciosu who died on the "Death Train" that left Iasi in June 1941
A Chess Set from Transnistria – From Parting Gift to Reunion
A Chess Set from Transnistria – From Parting Gift to Reunion
Chess pieces carved by Elhanan Ejbuszyc in Auschwitz from his block leader's club
Chess pieces carved by Elhanan Ejbuszyc in Auschwitz from his block leader's club
Six chess pieces from the game that the Freiburg family took into hiding
Six chess pieces from the game that the Freiburg family took into hiding
Chess pieces and box that Dr. Ernst Furst received in the Friedland labor camp in Poland
Chess pieces and box that Dr. Ernst Furst received in the Friedland labor camp in Poland
Chess pieces found scattered on the sidewalk next to the Giske family home in Lodz
Chess pieces found scattered on the sidewalk next to the Giske family home in Lodz
Chess board drawn by the child Jacob Jaget while he was in hiding with his family
Chess board drawn by the child Jacob Jaget while he was in hiding with his family
Chess board used by the youth Issachar Parkiet and his family in their hideout
Chess board used by the youth Issachar Parkiet and his family in their hideout
Chess set made from paper in the Buchenwald camp by political prisoner Hermann Rautenberg, a Jew from Berlin
Chess set made from paper in the Buchenwald camp by political prisoner Hermann Rautenberg, a Jew from Berlin
Chess set – The only remaining item from the Rennert family home
Chess set – The only remaining item from the Rennert family home
A Workshop for making chess pieces in a Detainment Camp in Cyprus
A Workshop for making chess pieces in a Detainment Camp in Cyprus
A chess game played by a young girl and boy in the Mogilev ghetto in Transnistria
A chess game played by a young girl and boy in the Mogilev ghetto in Transnistria
Chess pieces that Zigmund Stern carved for his son in the family's hideout
Chess pieces that Zigmund Stern carved for his son in the family's hideout