The Holocaust is one of the most horrible moments in the history of mankind, if not the most horrifying. The English word holocaust means sacrifice by fire. The event, Holocaust, pertains to the heartless and eerily systematic killing of about 6 million Jews by the Nazis through a fiery furnace. While people today would rather wipe away these torturous murders from historical memory, the Jews decided to memorialize their nation’s resilience and to keep the flame alive, hoping that such an evil act would never happen again. Today, in Jerusalem stands the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial, which includes a museum whose mission is to document the Holocaust and remember the martyrs and heroes.
The heroes are fellow Jews who bravely attempted to save some of the victims. Saving one or two lives made a big difference. The heroes are referred to as the Righteous Among the Nations.
Located on the western side of Mount Herzl above lush green forests, the memorial complex is not just one institute. It is composed of the Holocaust History Museum, Yad Vashem Museum of Art, a children’s memorial, research institute, library archives, monuments, sculpture gardens, and the International School of Holocaust Studies, which offers courses on the Holocaust (also referred to as Shoah) and the subject of genocide. The Western side of the mountain is aptly called the Mount of Remembrance.
The Holocaust History Museum is an underground museum complex that is about 4,500 square meters wide. It is near the Mount Herzl train station and not far away is the national cemetery for fallen heroes, national leaders and famous Israelis.
Established in 1953, this one-of-a-kind underground museum complex makes use of the mountain to symbolize the drama of what it represents. Out from the ground are shafts that allow sunlight to illuminate the galleries beneath. In them are photos, artifacts and other mementos that speak about the horror experienced by the Jewish people under Nazi control. The museum itself is a long linear structure, which represents the prolonged suffering experienced by the people. The most visible part is a skylight, the uppermost edge of the structure representing hope and life. Finally, the museum exit offers a breathtaking view of the valley below to represent the wide and beautiful future that awaits every Jew after the Holocaust.
Just before guests reach the museum’s climactic exit, they pass through the Hall of Names, which is perhaps the most somber and most distinguished part of Yad Vashem. Within the Hall is the Pages of Testimony, which contain pages and pages of names, biographical details, life stories, and photographs of Holocaust victims. The estimated number of murdered Jews is about 6 million, and today the Pages of Testimony have 2,500,000 names; 3,500,000 more to go.
Hitler and his Nazi regime murdered more than 3 million Jewish men, 2 million Jewish women and a million children. Their goal was to systematically rid of the Jews from the face of the earth.
Although the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial honors only the sufferings of the Jewish people, there were other victims of the Holocaust. Millions of Soviet, Polish, and Roman people were also killed, as well as prisoners of war, people with disabilities, homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and anyone who opposed the Nazi rule. In all, about 17 million people suffered under the iron hands of Hitler.