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Visiting Info
Opening Hours:

Sunday to Wednesday: 09:00-17:00
Thursday: 9:00-20:00 *
Fridays and Holiday eves: 09:00-14:00.

Yad Vashem is closed on Saturdays and all Jewish Holidays.

* The Holocaust History Museum, Museum of Holocaust Art, Exhibitions Pavilion and Synagogue are open until 20:00. All other sites close at 17:00.

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Photographs: Reflection or Interpretation of Reality - January 2013

Shalom and welcome to the 29th issue of Teaching the Legacy. This e-newsletter focuses on photography. In this newsletter we will explore the strengths and weaknesses of photographs as a historical source, and whether they reflect reality or interpret it. The newsletter contains an introductory article on the issues relevant to using photographs, and then a number of articles describe each issue discussed in the introduction in greater depth through the use of a case study of particular photographs. We also feature an interview with Nina Springer-Aharoni, the curator of films and photographs in the Yad Vashem Holocaust History Museum. The newsletter contains a book review that deals with photography: Where is Thy Brother Abel?, a book of photographs taken in 1942 in the Warsaw ghetto by a German soldier who was anti-Nazi in his ideological outlook, which was not published until forty years after he took the pictures. In keeping with the emphasis on photography, the artifact described in this newsletter is a camera from Yad Vashem's collection, and the featured story of the Righteous Among the Nations is also related to photography. There are two additional book reviews that will be helpful for educators: Teaching Controversial Issues in the Classroom: Key Issues and Debates, and The Holocaust and Other Genocides: An Introduction (Amsterdam: NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies and Amsterdam University Press, 2012).

As always, the newsletter features new publications and updates on recent and upcoming activities at the International School for Holocaust Studies and across Yad Vashem. We hope you find this issue interesting and resourceful and we look forward to your feedback.

Critical Analysis of Photographs as Historical Sources

Critical Analysis of Photographs as Historical Sources

It has been said that “a picture is worth a thousand words.” The notion here is that a single image is enough to present an idea so complicated that hundreds of words are required to do it justice. If this is so, then photographs, which are direct and unadulterated expressions of the reality seen by the camera, should be the unsurpassed and unequaled medium for expressing truth – including the truths of the Holocaust. The strength of photographs as expressions of the truth come from their “mechanical aura and the verisimilitude that [they] convey.”1 As Walter...
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Inside the Epicenter of the Horror – Photographs of the Sonderkommando

Inside the Epicenter of the Horror – Photographs of the Sonderkommando

Among the millions of photographs that are related to Nazi death camps, only four depict the actual process of mass killing perpetrated at the gas chambers in Auschwitz-Birkenau. They show a completely different perspective, which makes them unique when dealing with visual material of the Holocaust and the Holocaust as a topic itself. They were taken inside the epicenter of the horror, from which no other visual material exists. They were taken clandestinely at the height of the Final Solution in 1944 by one of the so-called Sonderkommando – Jewish prisoners forced to help carry...
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The photographer Mendel Grossman in his laboratory in the Lodz Ghetto, Poland

Who Took The Pictures?

In assessing the use of photographs as tools in commemorating the Holocaust, and as historical sources, one of the most important issues that we must be aware of is who the photographer was. Who took the pictures? The photographer, as a human being, may be using his camera to express himself or his views. He may romanticize his subject or treat it with disdain.In this article, we will compare pictures taken in the ghettos. The first segment deals with pictures taken by Mendel Grossman in Lodz, pictures that were taken with a great deal of empathy. Grossman's pictures were meant to create a...
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Auschwitz-Birkenau, Poland, Jewish women and children deemed "unfit for work" being unknowingly led to Gas Chamber #3.

What is the Photograph's Context?

When World War II ended in the spring of 1945, Lili1 Jacob was a young Jewish girl of about eighteen, physically broken. She weighed only 80 pounds and fell victim to typhus at Dora, a Nazi slave labor camp, after a death march from Auschwitz to one labor camp after another. After a few days in the clinic, Lili heard shouts, “The Americans are here!” She got up to see for herself, but collapsed before she could get very far. Fellow prisoners carried her into a barrack at the camp that had previously been an SS barrack. When she came to, she was cold. She looked through a cupboard...
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The Eastern Front: Photographs as Propaganda

The Eastern Front: Photographs as Propaganda

The photographs taken by German soldiers and police officers of the abuse, deportation and murder of the Jews they encountered in the occupied Eastern territories starting in 1939 still hold the power to shock and horrify us more than seventy years later. These photographs are the result of the camera being used as a weapon to commemorate acts of violence, brutality and cruelty committed against helpless victims.But what is the impetus behind taking such pictures – why were they taken? And if we then understand that these photographs were not only taken, but were distributed and placed into...
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Excerpts from an Interview with Nina Springer-Aharoni, Curator of Films and Photos in the Yad Vashem Museum

Excerpts from an Interview with Nina Springer-Aharoni, Curator of Films and Photos in the Yad Vashem Museum

Yad Vashem opened its new Holocaust History Museum about eight years ago to worldwide acclaim. The museum provides a powerful experience that takes the visitor into the difficult period of Nazi rule and the ensuing Holocaust. The new museum in its design and internal display is a radical departure from the old museum which served Yad Vashem for more than forty years. Visitors then were led through passages with walls which were covered with photographs that by and large were the sole means of presenting the Holocaust.The new museum also has a very large number of photographs in the different galleries...
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Righteous Among the Nations: Veseli and Fatima Veseli and their children: Refik, Hamid & Xhemal

Righteous Among the Nations: Veseli and Fatima Veseli and their children: Refik, Hamid & Xhemal

This segment spotlights unique individuals who risked their lives in order to save Jews during the Holocaust. Here you can read the featured story of the Muslim family Veseli who saved the Jewish family Mandil. The young Refik Veseli who had worked in the same photoshop as Moshe Mandil suggested that the Mandils should move to his parents' home in the mountains after the Germans invaded Albania....
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Artifacts from the Holocaust

Artifacts from the Holocaust

This camera documented one family's historic journey....
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