04 May 2015
Marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II on May 8-9, 1945 (VE Day), the Museum of the Jewish Solider in World War II will hold a State ceremony in cooperation with Yad Vashem. The ceremony will take place on Thursday, May 7, 2015 at the Armored Corps Memorial at Latrun. President Reuven Rivlin, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon will address some 6,000 attendees, including WWII veterans, Holocaust survivors, students and more. During the ceremony, the memorial torch will be lit by Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev and Chairman of the Association for Establishing the Museum of the Jewish Soldier in World War II Gen. (Res.) Haim Erez. Media who are interested in covering/attending the event must contact Lital Apter Yotzer at firstname.lastname@example.org; 0503900900.
In advance of VE Day, Yad Vashem is uploading three new special exhibitions and research projects, looking at different aspects of this period.
Some 1.5 million Jews fought with the Allies in World War II, serving on all fronts in Europe and the Pacific. Fighting for Freedom, presents a number of items from Yad Vashem's Artifacts Collection related to Jewish soldiers who fought against the Nazis â€“ artifacts, photographs and documents that tell the singular combat stories of these soldiers who, while advancing with their armies and pushing the German army back, were exposed to the destruction of European Jewry that had taken place under German occupation. The online exhibition tells the story of Jewish soldiers such as David Murin, who found a torn piece of a Torah scroll parchment on the ground in Rozisce, Poland, when his Red Army unit entered the town. Murin retrieved the parchment â€“ a tangible memento of the rich Jewish life that had existed and now lay in ruins â€“ and kept it safe in his army backpack throughout the war, even at the height of battle. Only when Murin returned to Riga after the war did he discover that he was the sole survivor of his family. The exhibition is generously supported by the Genesis Philanthropy Group.
A new research project, Jews in the Red Army, 1941-1945, highlights the stories of Jewish Red Army soldiers who received formal recognition, primarily as "Heroes of the Soviet Union," for their military achievements. From 1941 to 1945, between 350,000 and 500,000 Jews served in the Red Army. The accounts of one hundred of these conscripts are included in this special online project conducted by the International Institute's Center for Research on the History of Soviet Jews during the Holocaust. The project is generously supported by the Blavatnik Family Foundation.
When the Allies defeated Nazi Germany, Jewish survivors often could not or did not want to return to their pre-war homes. Thousands ended up in Displaced Persons (DP) camps where they began to rebuild their lives. The new online exhibition, DP Camps and Hachsharot in Italy after the War tells the story of some 70,000 survivors who lived in Italy during 1945-1951, in over 30 DP camps and approximately 45 kibbutzim and hachsharot (pioneer training collectives). While there, the survivors began the process of returning to life in all areas of religion, culture and education, while coping with the enormity of their loss. Some 50,000 survivors who lived in the camps in Italy went on to immigrate to Eretz Israel.
In addition to the online exhibitions, a symposium marking VE day will be held at Yad Vashemâ€™s International Institute for Holocaust Research on May 6, 2015. Remarks will be offered by Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev, Prof. Shlomo Avineri of The Hebrew University, Yad Vashem researcher Dr. Joel Zisenwine and Yehudit Shendar, former Director the Yad Vashem Museum of Holocaust Art. The event is open to the press and will take place in Hebrew.