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

Life in the Ghettos

The phase prior to the Jews’ deportation to the concentration and death camps was characterized by social, economic and physical isolation. The Jews were incarcerated in ghettos, where disease was rife, and extreme hunger and cold were causes of constant suffering. Despite the daily existential battle a spirited cultural life continued; festivals were observed and social and communal activities continued. The artifacts that remain from the ghetto period bear witness to this incredible triumph of the spirit over life’s harsh reality.

A calendar for the Jewish Year 5704 (1943-44) that was made and reproduced by Asher Berlinger in Theresienstadt
"Despite all this ..." - Observing the Jewish Calendar in Theresienstadt
A chess set that the young girl Chaya Stecolchic received as a gift from the youth Leone Goldstein when they were liberated from Ghetto Mogilev in Transnistria
Chess in the Ghetto
A jute bag Sidonie Asherova received in Theresientstadt
Survival Against the Odds
This volume of Tzena U’rena was part of the Museum Collection for many years, but until recently, Yad Vashem knew little about its former owner
An Inscription Bears Witness
Avraham Hellmann’s Shofar that was used on the High Holy Days in Theresienstadt
"A Shofar Blast in the Ghetto"