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Visiting Info
Opening Hours:

Sunday to Thursday: ‬09:00-17:00

Fridays and Holiday eves: ‬09:00-14:00

Yad Vashem is closed on Saturdays and all Jewish Holidays.

Entrance to the Holocaust History Museum is not permitted for children under the age of 10. Babies in strollers or carriers will not be permitted to enter.

Drive to Yad Vashem:
For more Visiting Information click here

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 teenager Aaron Rennert took with him when his family was deported to Transnistria

Chess set – the only remaining item from the Rennert family home

In 1941 the Rennert family was deported from the town of Vijnita (Vishnitz), Bukovina beyond the Dniester River. The arduous journey through Transnistria began with a journey to the city of Mogilev on a train jam-packed with deportees.
Chess pieces made by Yisrael & Yitzhak Roth and Aryeh Klein in the detainment camp in Cyprus

A Workshop for making chess pieces in a Detainment Camp in Cyprus

After the war,  brothers Yisrael and Yitzhak Roth and their cousin Aryeh Klein, Hungarian survivors, decided to make their way illegally to Eretz Israel (Mandatory Palestine) together with members of their Hachshara (pioneer training) group  from the Hashomer Hatzair youth movement.  They sailed together on the ship Knesset Israel, but the ship was caught by the British, and its passengers deported to detainment camps in Cyprus.
Chess pieces that Malka Giske found after the war next to her former home in the Lodz ghetto

Chess pieces found scattered on the sidewalk next to the Giske family home in Lodz

"I donated the chess board in memory of the children who I always see in my mind"After surviving close to four years in the Lodz ghetto, Shmuel Giske and his three daughters, Rachel, 27, Malka, 24 and Liliana, 16, were deported to the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp.
Chess pieces carved by Elhanan Ejbuszyc in Auschwitz-Birkenau

Chess pieces carved by Elhanan Ejbuszyc in Auschwitz from his block leader's club

Elhanan Ejbuszyc, a talented carver of miniatures, was deported from the Lodz ghetto to Auschwitz-Birkenau in the summer of 1944, where he was imprisoned in Block 20. The block leader was known for his cruelty, particularly for using his club to beat prisoners who got in his way. Rumor had it that he had been sentenced to life imprisonment for murdering his wife and children.  One day Ejbuszyc took a chance and offered the cruel leader, who habitually bragged about his prowess at chess, to carve chess pieces for him. He dared to suggest that the block leader's club would be perfect...
Chess set made from paper by Hermann Rautenberg in the Buchenwald camp where he was imprisoned until his execution.

Chess set made from paper in the Buchenwald camp by political prisoner Hermann Rautenberg, a Jew from Berlin

On an old fishing boat, posing as a group of innocent boating enthusiasts, Herman Rautenberg from Berlin met with other youths involved in anti-Nazi activities. In spite of being arrested a number of times, Rautenberg was undeterred. In 1937, after he was betrayed by an informant, he was arrested again and sentenced immediately. He was sent to Dachau and a year later to Buchenwald where he was imprisoned for over two years. During his incarceration, Rautenberg made a chess game from bits of paper that he found in the camp.
Chess pieces that Zigmund Stern carved while in hiding in Slovakia, 1944

Chess pieces that Zigmund Stern carved for his son in the family's hideout

In the fall of 1944, Zigmund and Rosina Stern fled from Bratislava with their nine-year-old son Alfred, and began to wander through remote villages in Slovakia looking for hiding places. They sent their twelve-year-old son, Richard, to his grandparents in Budapest where they hoped he would be safe.  They found a hideout for four months in the home of Maria and Jan Matulova, and then hid for a further three months in the home of the Potancok family in the village of Povraznik.
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

In the summer of 1942, Joseph Parkiet was warned by an acquaintance that the next day a massive roundup of Jews was scheduled to take place throughout Paris, and advising him to go into hiding. He quickly hid with his wife and children in the family workshop, moving the following day to a friend's workshop located in a courtyard, where they remained for over two years until the end of the war.
Chess set that belonged to Lupu Credinciosu, who was murdered on the "Death Train" from Jassy in 1941

Chess set that belonged to Lupu (Ze'ev) Credinciosu who died on the "Death Train" that left Iasi in June 1941

The chess games served as a cover for the meetings of the underground group in Iasi that Lupu (Ze'ev) Credinciosu was a member of. While playing, they discussed political questions related to their anti-fascist beliefs."They would play chess, Father would hold me on his lap and they would talk politics… the government was fascist… it was forbidden to band together, certainly on the left… Jews were in any case suspected of being sympathetic to the Soviet Union…"(From the testimony of Lupu's daughter, Mona Credinciosu)
Chess set carved by Julius Druckman in Obdovka Ghetto, Transnistria, 1943

A Chess Set from Transnistria – From Parting Gift to Reunion

"Hunger was a powerful teacher" testifies Julius Druckman, who was deported at age 11 with his mother from Czernowitz to the region of Transnistria. Mother and son wandered from place to place until they reached the town of Obdovka, where many deportees had gathered. In terrible conditions of overcrowding, cold and hunger, the deportees tried to make a living by shoemaking or needlework. The children formed gangs and stole food from the market, collected firewood in the forests for heating and cooking, and fished for food in the local lake.
Chessboard from the notebook that Jakob Jaget used as a sketchbook while in hiding.

Chessboard drawn by the child Kuba (Jack) Jaget while he was in hiding with his family

For twenty-two months the Jaget family from the village of Bobrka hid in a dark cramped space under the pigpen of a Ukrainian family.
Chess pieces that were made in the Friedland labor camp, Poland

Chess pieces and box that Dr. Ernst Furst received in the Friedland labor camp in Poland

Dr. Ernest Furst, an ear, nose and throat specialist from Topolcany in Slovakia, was deported to Auschwitz with his family in 1944. His wife and children were murdered. Dr. Furst was sent to the Friedland labor camp, a sub-camp of Gross Rosen. The prisoners were sent to forced labor in an armaments factory and as loggers in a saw mill. 
Chess pieces that the Freiburg family took from home when they went into hiding.

Six chess pieces from the game that the Freiburg family took into hiding

After the German Nazis murdered the inhabitants of Monasterzyska and it was declared Judenrein (free of Jews),the few Jews who remained, among them Shoshana and Aryeh Freiburg and their eleven-year-old daughter Shulamit, were sent to the ghetto in Buczacz. The family managed to avoid capture in Aktion after Aktion by hiding in different places."I used to plan how I would survive… I imagined that if we were caught, I would stand in the middle, not on the edges and I'd hold my parents' hands and when I would see that they were shooting those near us I'd pull them down...
Chess set that Chaya Stecolchic received from Leone Goldstein on their liberation from the Mogilev ghetto, Transnistria

A chess game played by a young girl and boy in the Mogilev ghetto in Transnistria

Thirteen-year-old Chaya Stecolchic from Czernowitz became friends with the youth Leone Goldstein in the Mogilev ghetto. Leone, who had a chess set, taught her to play the game, and when they were released from the ghetto he gave the handcrafted game to her. On the reverse of the chessboard he wrote: “In remembrance of the difficult but happy days 24/4/1944”. The inscription reflects how the game of chess enabled the teenagers to briefly forget the hardships of their surroundings and to simply enjoy being young.The Stecolchic family, Rosa and David and their five children, were...