Thursday, February 21, 2013

Yad Vashem

Warsaw Ghetto Square

This last Monday we got to go to Yad Vashem and it was an experience that I will not forget. For those of you that do not know what Yad Vashem is, it is a site to commemorate the holocaust and it includes a museum and there are trees everywhere that commemorate the people that have had significant and meaningful actions during the holocaust to help out the Jews.

To the left is the Hall of Remembrance. We didn't actually go in there, but it was on the way to the museum.

Pillar of Heroism

Our teacher, Mr. Yardin, talked a lot about the different and ever changing viewpoints that the Jews have on the Holocaust survivors. It was surprising to me to find that even a few decades ago, there was a lot of negative judgment on the Holocaust survivors. On the minds of the Jews that were in Israel during the time of WWII, they thought for a long time that the ones that survived were weak (very anti intuitive right?). The heroes at Warsaw that fought against the Nazi's were heroes and they had died. Why did the survivors live? This was the thought that was prevalent for a  long time in the minds of the Jews in Israel after the Holocaust. The Holocaust survivors did not talk about their experience and the other Jews did not want to hear about their experience. When Yad Vashem was created, it was used to commemorate the heroes that had dies in the Holocaust and the idea of commemorating the survivors was not part of the agenda.
The Heroes of the Warsaw Ghetto Revolt
The Jews that are being led like "sheeps to the slaughter."

Children Memorial

These stone obelisks were on top of the entrance to the children memorial. One and a half million children had died because of the effect of the Holocaust. When we first walked into the memorial, it was a room full of mirrors in the dark that was illuminated by specks of light that formed a starry night like appearance. There was a woman on recording that read each of the names of the children that had died. Their name, their birth place, and their age at the time of death. Ten seconds in total were given to remember the life of a child - ten seconds. A teacher that was leading a different group of students said that it takes half a year to read the one and a half million names.

After the field trip, there was a lot of students that expressed their feelings as being heavy. In adding to their feelings, I thought that the whole experience left me feeling sad, depressed, and empty at the same time. How could humanity do such a thing? It was just mind blowing for me. There are a lot of people that will not allow themselves to dwell on the thoughts of the Holocaust, or not even touch on the subject, feeling it to be too violent or depressing. I think that it is disrespectful to do that - in my mind it is like pretending that the Holocaust did not ever exist. We need to understand the bad to fully appreciate the good. Learn from the mistakes and become better! There is always going to be a ray of hope that keeps us moving forward and however awful an experience might be, there will always be something to learn from that experience.

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