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The Museum Complex

The Museum Complex

The Learning Center

It is now clear that this challenging job of preserving memory and passing it on to future generations cannot be accomplished through historiography alone. Other means are necessary to achieve this monumental task… In addition to historic questions such as ‘What happened?’ and ‘How did it happen?’ we must now include another question: ‘How should it have been?’ We must not allow the Holocaust to remain in the realm of large numbers and generalized statements.”

Professor Aharon Appelfeld, author and Holocaust survivor, Yad Vashem,

Holocaust Remembrance Day Eve, 1997

Visitors to the new Holocaust History Museum will probably encounter ethical, educational, theological and philosophical dilemmas, as well as troubling issues that go beyond the mere description of historic events: How did a cultured nation in 20th century central Europe become the perpetrator of mass murder? What makes the Holocaust a unique event? What happened to the concepts of “good” and “evil” after the Holocaust? How has the trauma of the Holocaust shaped world, Jewish and Israeli identity? How can we inculcate the memory of the Holocaust in future generations? The new Learning Center built through the generosity of Stella and Sam Skura (USA) helps visitors deal with such questions and concerns, by guiding them in examining the various aspects of these issues.

The Learning Center, otherwise known as the “Center for Major Questions Arising from the Holocaust,” is no standard computerized information center; it was designed for visitors to embark on a journey of personal inquiry. Upon entering the Center, a shaft of light gradually projects questions, like drops of water, towards the middle of the floor, which then come together and circle the room like waves of water. This reflects the idea that one question is merely a drop in the ocean, but can generate waves upon waves of additional questions in its wake.

The Center includes between 10 and 20 basic questions that demand thorough and serious study. A central area in the middle of the room enables groups to view and discuss some of these questions through multimedia presentations, guided by trained educators from the International School for Holocaust Studies. The outer circle surrounding the central conference area is fitted with computer terminals and earphones enabling individual or paired study. Here, visitors see, hear and read opinions on the “major questions” expressed by Holocaust survivors, religious leaders and thinkers, writers, artists, historians and prominent researchers. The researchers include Yad Vashem’s leading historians—Professor Israel Gutman, Professor Yehuda Bauer, Professor David Bankier and Professor Dan Michman—as well as Professor Christopher Browning, Professor Raul Hilberg, Professor Omer Bartov, Professor David Engel, Professor Eberhard Jaeckel, Professor Steven Aschheim, Professor George Ben-Shoshan, and others. This type of encounter is be the key to productive discussion and consideration. For those who wish to study the questions in greater depth, Yad Vashem’s databases and learning tools are also available at the Learning Center.

The Learning Center, established as a joint project by the Departments for Teacher Training, Instruction and Curricular Development of the International School for Holocaust Studies, was designed by the Mulli Ben Sasson Studio.