Newsletter No. 29, May 2013
Holocaust Remembrance Day 2013
Israel's President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, dignitaries, diplomats and thousands of Holocaust survivors and their families gathered on the evening of April 7, 2013, in Yad Vashem's Warsaw Ghetto Square for the official ceremony for Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day. This year's central theme was "Defiance and rebellion during the Holocaust – Marking 70 Years since the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising." The ceremony was broadcast live throughout Israel and on JLTV, and is available for viewing, along with a special mini-site which includes the torchlighter stories and films. Commemorative ceremonies took place on the Mount Remembrance throughout the day, including the wreath-laying ceremony in Warsaw Ghetto Square and the recitation of Holocaust victims' names by members of their families and members of the public in the Hall of Remembrance. Later in the afternoon, members of Israeli Zionist youth groups gathered together for a special ceremony in the Valley of the Communities.
US President Obama at Yad Vashem
US President Barack Obama visited Yad Vashem on March 22, 2013, accompanied by President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev and Chairman of the Yad Vashem Council Rabbi Israel Meir Lau. At the conclusion of the visit, Avner Shalev presented President Obama with a token of remembrance telling the tragic story of Cantor Israel Eljasz Maroko, the Chief Cantor of Amsterdam, who is memorialized in the Hall of Names. The album included a copy of handwritten sheet music of an original composition that Cantor Maroko wrote to the Passover liturgal poem, Had Gadya, in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam in 1941. Of the many cantorial works he composed, this is the only one that survived the Holocaust. Clearly moved, President Obama remarked that he would "cherish this always." He also noted, "Nothing equals the wrenching power of this sacred place," he said. "If you come here a thousand times, each time our hearts will break."
Spotlight on the Web
New German Website Attracts Thousands
More than 150,000 visits have been recorded on Yad Vashem's new comprehensive website in German. Among its extensive resources about the Holocaust: an in-depth historical narrative, video lectures by leading German-speaking scholars and a wealth of educational materials. It also features online exhibitions on Jewish life in Europe under the Nazis; related resources such as diaries, photos and testimonies; the Central Database of Shoah Victims’ Names, containing information on 4.2 million people; and the "Transports to Extinction" Database, with information on 500 deportations during the Shoah. The new German website joins Yad Vashem's existing websites in English, Hebrew, Spanish, Russian, Arabic and Farsi, ensuring that Yad Vashem continues to reach an ever-expanding global audience.
New Online Exhibition
The captivating exhibition "Voices from the Inferno: Holocaust Survivors Describe the Last Months in the Warsaw Ghetto" is now online. The exhibition brings together excerpts from hours of video testimony given by the survivors of the Warsaw Ghetto and former combatants in the uprising. Some of the Jews of the ghetto succeeded in escaping the ghetto after the battle that raged there and survived in hiding on the Aryan side, others hid deep inside the bunkers in the ghetto, but were ultimately discovered by the Germans and deported to concentration and death camps. There were also the few who managed to survive among the ruins of the ghetto until the liberation. The majority of the Jews who took part in the Warsaw Ghetto uprising were murdered. This unique oral documentation enhances our understanding of one of the central chapters in Holocaust history.
New Yad Vashem Square Dedicated
During May, the new Yad Vashem Square was dedicated at the entrance to the Mount of Remembrance, adjacent to Mt. Herzl. The Square is engraved with the words Yad Vashem in Hebrew on natural Hebron stone. Not only does the Square function as a directional guide for the thousands of daily visitors to Yad Vashem, but it also adds an aesthetic element to the Jerusalem cityscape and serves as a gradual transition between the daily reality of the Jerusalem city streets to the Mount of Remembrance, Yad Vashem. The Yad Vashem Square was established thanks to the generous contribution of Yad Vashem’s long standing supporters The Wilf Families in the USA: Harry and Judith Wilf z”l, Joseph and Elizabeth Wilf, Leonard and Beth Wilf, Zygmunt and Audrey Wilf, and Mark and Jane Wilf.
Postcards to a Little Boy
A Kindertransport Story
By Henry Foner
Henry Foner (Heinz Lichtwitz), who had lost his mother at a young age, was sent from Berlin to Wales and lived there with a Jewish couple who provided him with a warm, loving home. From the moment they parted, Henry’s father sent him colorful illustrated postcards written in German and later on in English. This authentic and moving document presents the postcards and letters that Henry received from his father and other relatives and friends, along with their translation. To order click here or write firstname.lastname@example.org
Days of Ruin
The Jews of Munkֳ¡cs during the Holocaust
By Raz Segal
The book provides a comprehensive and well-documented account of the tragic fate of the Jews of Munkács (Mukachevo) from the incorporation of the town in Hungary in November 1938 to the deportation of the overwhelming majority of the community to their deaths in Auschwitz in May 1944. It is a moving and shocking account of how the Final Solution of the Jewish Question was implemented in a single town in greater Hungary. It documents fully how this mass murder was carried out by the Hungarian Police Force and Army with only limited German assistance. Click here to order from our online store.
Israeli Holocaust memorial seeks to preserve memory of the 6 million victims, a name at a time, in the Washington Post
Holocaust Memorial Launches German Website, in Deutsche Welle
Barack Obama remembers Holocaust victims at Israeli memorial, in the Guardian
Facing the (Passover) Music at Yad Vashem, in Haaretz
Palestinians visit Yad Vashem: 'A tragedy beyond words', on Ynet.com
Swiss Fund to Hasten Fuller List Of Victims, in the New York Jewish Week
Using Art to Commemorate Holocaust, on Ynet.com
Seeking Kin: From an Anatevka-like village to a family reunion in Florida, on JTA
Jerusalem's Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial: An Unforgettable Experience, in the Huffington Post
With Your Support
Help Protect Yad Vashem from Forest Fires
Surrounded by the Jerusalem Forest on three sides, Yad Vashem is threatened by forest fires. As the summer approaches, we are once again faced with this risk; unseasonable heat waves have already caused fires in some areas of Israel and it is likely that the danger will become more imminent in the coming months. With the 2011 fire still clear in our minds, Yad Vashem has been developing its fire safety infrastructure by installing additional water lines and fire-fighting equipment throughout the Mount of Remembrance.
Yad Vashem is seeking donors to join us in continuing to develop and upgrade our emergency infrastructure, thus ensuring the safety of the stories, artifacts and documents bequeathed to us by those who are no longer present to tell their story and donated to us by those who survived.
To learn more about supporting this urgent project, please contact the International Relations Department.