Bearing Witness: Stories Behind the Artifacts in the Yad Vashem Museum Collection

A Story of Valor for Hanukkah

The Hanukkah Menorah that Willy Tal received as a gift for his Bar Mitzvah in Amsterdam in 1935The Hanukkah Menorah that Willy Tal received as a gift for his Bar Mitzvah in Amsterdam in 1935   More photos

The holiday of Hanukkah has come to symbolize the struggle for national revival that Zionism represents. The light of the eight days has become the light of the Jewish state in the land of Israel and the valor of the Maccabees has become a symbol of the national spirit.

With the approach of Hanukkah, we have chosen to highlight the heroism of Willy Tal, whose Menorah was donated to the artifacts collection in October.

Willy Tal was born in Amsterdam in September 1922, the second child of Felix & Greta Tal, a brother to Florry. With the outbreak of war Willy found work with the Jewish Council as a male nurse in the Jewish Hospital for the mentally disturbed “Het Apeldoornse-bos”. This gave him a temporary reprieve from deportation.

On January 21st 1943, by order of Eichmann, in conjunction with Gemmeker, the Kommandant of Westerbork transit camp, some 900 mentally disturbed patients and 500 hospital staff were deported to Auschwitz. Though there was advanced warning of the round up, and some 100 workers went into hiding, Willy refused to abandon his patients and was sent with them to Auschwitz. Willy was murdered there on the 30th of April, 1943.

Willy’s father, Felix, who had understood what the future held upon the occupation of Holland, transferred the family’s valuables, documents and family albums to a room that he rented in Amsterdam. Among these was the Hanukkah Menorah that his son Willy had received as a Bar Mitzva present.

Felix and Greta survived the war in hiding in Amsterdam. At the end of the war Felix collected the hidden family property. In 1947, Greta, her daughter Florry and her son-in-law Eli Asscher immigrated to Israel and brought the Menorah with them.   

The Hanukkah Menorah was donated in October 2008 by Florry Asscher to the Yad Vashem’s Artifacts Collection as a final keepsake of her brother Willy who was murdered in Auschwitz.

Yad Vashem Artifacts Collection
Gift of Flory Asscher, Kfar-Saba