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The Artifacts Collection

About the Artifacts Collection in Yad Vashem

"….If not for the fateful decision [of Yitzhak] to send my parents to Eretz Yisrael I wouldn’t have survived and even today I feel that I owe my life to him. All that remains of him is this Mahzor (Holiday prayerbook) inscribed in his handwriting. It’s as if it is his tombstone."

Chaya Tepper, grand-daughter of Yitzhak Kurant from Przytyk, Poland, in the covering letter she wrote when she donated the Mahzor to Yad Vashem

The Artifacts Collection of Yad Vashem’s Museum includes more than 27,000 items that were donated over the years by Holocaust survivors or their families, as well as artifacts received from various organizations in Israel and abroad. The collection includes a wide variety of artifacts connected to the events that unfolded in Europe during the first half of the twentieth century, that reveal different aspects of the Holocaust:

  • Jewish life before the Holocaust
  • Jewish life in Germany following the Nazis’ rise to power and their reign of terror against the Jews.
  • The outbreak of war and the flight of Jews to Soviet territory
  • Isolation of the Jewish population by means of identifying badges, establishment of ghettos and confiscation of property.
  • Deportation to concentration camps, forced labor and murder in the death camps and killing pits
  • Rescue and refuge with the help of “Righteous Among the Nations”.
  • Rescue endeavors by underground movements and partisan warfare
  • The “Death Marches”
  • Liberation and the discovery of the extent of the destruction of Jewish life
  • Attempts at rehabilitation in the DP camps and the exodus from Europe
  • The “Ha’apala” (illegal immigration to British Mandate pre-state Israel), the detention camps in Cyprus and the struggle for the Jewish State.
  • The contribution of Holocaust survivors to the growth of the State of Israel in the fields of security, economy and culture.

Since the establishment of Yad Vashem, individuals and assorted organizations have donated Holocaust related artifacts. In the first decades, the artifacts were preserved in the Archives until the establishment of a separate artifacts collection in the Museums Division. From 1995, under the direction of Haviva Peled-Carmeli, the artifacts collection expanded and developed through her enthusiastic efforts.

In recent years much emphasis has been placed on collecting artifacts that document the daily life of Jews in the shadow of annihilation, focusing on children’s games, artifacts created in the camps, artifacts testifying to spiritual endurance and artifacts demonstrating the struggle to live a normal life in a difficult, if not impossible, reality.

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