This gallery opens with an area dedicated to the fate of Jews in Western Europe. Personal stories of families from France and Holland are chosen to illustrate German policies in the conquered lands of Western Europe.
The largest part of this gallery is devoted to providing visitors with a true sense of the Jewish experience in the Ghettos [of Eastern Europe]. Four Ghettos are chosen for this purpose: Lodz and Warsaw - the largest Ghettos in Poland - as well as Lithuania’s Kovno Ghetto and the Theresienstadt Ghetto, established 40 miles NW of Prague.
Lodz Ghetto – residents of this Ghetto were forced to work as slave laborers for the Germans during their incarceration there. Working under the most inhumane conditions, the Jews hoped their efforts would save them from deportation to the extermination camps. However the Ghetto was liquidated in August 1944 – a few weeks before liberation.
Warsaw Ghetto – this was the largest of the Ghettos, housing nearly 500,000 people. One street, Leszno, has been symbolically reconstructed using genuine artifacts, offering visitors a first-hand rendition of the Ghetto’s prominent sights, personalities, and phenomena. Through letter collections and studies that were carried out in the Ghetto, mostly contained in the Oneg Shabbat Archive established by the historian, Dr. Emmanuel Ringleblum, light is shed on the struggle for life that was waged by the Ghetto’s residents. Photographs from the Yad Vashem collection enhance the display.
Kovno Ghetto – this Ghetto, was like others in German occupied areas of the Soviet Union, in that one-third of the community was murdered at killing sites before the survivors were incarcerated, leaving no room for illusions regarding the Nazis’ plans. The efforts made by residents to maintain a semblance of life and culture despite a definitive awareness of their fate are singled out.
Theresienstadt Ghetto – a unique Monopoly gameboard, made in the Ghetto in 1943 forms the center of this exhibition. The stations in the game were named after the streets and main buildings in the Ghetto. Using the gameboard as a base for exploring the Ghetto, visitors can see how the children and the elderly were treated and cared for by their fellow Jews, and how people expressed their feelings through works of art, music, and poetry.