Written by 04:44 World

Israel’s Holocaust Memorial Is Stepping Up Efforts to Preserve Memories

The pictures are haunting: black-and-white prints of a snow-covered barracks and paintings bordered by wire fences and skeletal trees, grim depictions of a World War II camp in France where Jews were interned before being transported to concentration camps.

The artist, Jacques Gotko, created one picture using a background of crushed eggshells glued to a wooden board; for others he used a piece of old tire as a printing block. Those were just some of the few materials available to him at the camp where he was held before being transported to Drancy, another camp in France, then Auschwitz-Birkenau, in Poland, in 1943.

Fragile and rarely displayed, these works are part of a massive repository of Holocaust-related artifacts — among them millions of pages of documents, tens of thousands of pages of testimony, artworks and personal belongings and more than half a million photographs — collected over the years by Yad Vashem, Israel’s official Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem.

Most of the artifacts had been scattered around Yad Vashem’s vast campus, but they will now be housed in a new center that will allow easier access for researchers and provide the most advanced technological conditions to safeguard them for future generations. The center was recently completed and was inaugurated Monday.

The task of preserving the artifacts has become all the more urgent as the Holocaust becomes an ever more distant episode, with the number of survivors steadily decreasing, at a time when antisemitism and extremism are resurgent around the world, Yad Vashem officials say.

“These are the crown jewels of the Jewish people,” Dani Dayan, the chairman of Yad Vashem, said of the collections. “There is no Judaism without historical remembrance.”

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Last modified: 11 July 2024
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