On International Holocaust Day, Sunday, Yad Vashem displayed more than 71,000 items collected nationwide over the past two years.
The opening came as other Holocaust-related events took place around the world.
In 2005, the United Nations designated Jan. 27 as International Holocaust Remembrance Day, marking 60 years since the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp.
Israel’s main Holocaust memorial day is in the spring, marking the anniversary of the uprising of the Jewish ghetto in Warsaw, Poland, against the Nazis.
To coincide with the international commemorations, Israel released its annual anti-Semitism report, noting that the past year experienced an increase in the number of attacks against Jewish targets worldwide, mainly by elements identified with Islamic extremists.
At Sunday’s weekly Cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said the lessons of the Holocaust have yet to be learned. He warned that Iran was pursuing nuclear weapons with the goal of destroying Israel.
Yad Vashem showcased dozens of items, each representing tales of perseverance and survival. They included sweaters, paintings, diaries, letters, dolls, cameras and religious artifacts that were stashed away for decades, or were discarded, before they were collected and restored.
Yad Vashem researchers have been interviewing survivors, logging their stories, tagging materials and scanning documents into the museum’s digitized archive.
Aside from their value as exhibits in the museum, Yad Vashem says the items are also proving helpful for research, filling in gaps in history and contributing to the museum’s huge database of names.
“Thousands of Israelis have decided to part with personal items close to their hearts, and through them share the memory of their dear ones who were murdered in the Holocaust,” said Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev. “Through these examples, we have tried to bring to light items whose stories both explain the individual story and provide testimony to join the array of personal accounts that make up the narrative of the Holocaust.”
For 83-year-old Shlomo Resnik, one such item was the steel bowl he and his father used at the Dachau concentration camp. His father Meir’s name and number are engraved on the bowl, a reminder of how they had to scrape for food. “We fought to stay alive,” he said.
Approaching the glass-encased display, Tsilla Shlubsky’s eyes tear up. Below she could see the handwritten diary her father kept while the family took shelter with two dozen others in a small attic in the Polish countryside. With a pencil, Jakov Glazmann recorded the family’s ordeal in tiny Yiddish letters. His daughter doesn’t know what is written, and she doesn’t wish to find out.
“I remember him writing. I lived through it,” said Shlubsky, 74. “Abba wasn’t a writer, but with his heart’s blood he wrote a diary to record the events to leave something behind so that what had taken place would be known.”
The President’s Statement on International Holocaust Remembrance Day
On January 27th, International Holocaust Remembrance Day, we honor the memories of the 6 million Jews and millions of other innocent victims whose lives were tragically taken during the Holocaust over 60 years ago. Those who experienced the horrors of the cattle cars, ghettos and concentration camps have witnessed humanity at its very worst and know too well the pain of losing loved ones to senseless violence.
But while this is a time for mourning and reflection, it is also the time for action. On this day, we recall the courage, spirit and determination of those who heroically resisted the Nazis, exemplifying the very best of humanity. And like these courageous individuals, we must commit ourselves to resisting hate and persecution in all its forms. The United States, along with the international community, resolves to stand in the way of any tyrant or dictator who commits crimes against humanity, and stay true to the principle of “Never Again.”
By remaining vigilant against those who seek to perpetrate violence and murder, we honor those we lost during one of the darkest periods in human history. And we keep their memory alive for generations to come.