Holocaust Museum

Holocaust Museum

Holocaust Museum Jerusalem

Holocaust Museum, Jerusalem

Jerusalem has two Holocaust museums. Yad Vashem, the larger museum, is on Mount Herzi next to the Jerusalem Forest, while the smaller Chamber of the Holocaust - Jerusalem's original Holocaust museum - is just outside Old Jerusalem on Mount Zion.

Yad Vashem is a sprawling compound that covers 45 acres, more than double the size of Israel Museum, and also receives more visitors than Israel's national museum. Yad Vashem includes the Holocaust History Museum, the Hall of Remembrance, the Museum of Holocaust Art, the International Institute for Holocaust Studies, and the Garden of the Righteous Among the Nations, which honors gentiles who are deemed "Righteous Among the Nations" for having saved Jews during the Holocaust.*

The Chamber of the Holocaust was built just after the re-creation of the state of Israel in 1948 and has only ten rooms. Founded and still operated by Orthodox Jews, the Chamber of the Holocaust exhibits many of the atrocities committed against not only Jews but also against Judaism, including drums, wallets, purses and other items that the Jews were forced to make from the Torah, which they had to desecrate. Above is one such item: a shirt made from pages of the Torah that a Nazi officer ordered a Jewish tailor to make for him. The tailor had the last word, as he used only verses that speak of curses.

The artifacts on display at both Holocaust museums originate in Europe, including from Auschwitz.

* While Oskar Schindler remains the best-known gentile honored as "Righteous Among the Nations" (see Oskar Schindler's Grave), the list includes over 26,000 others and there are some surprises:

* Albert Göring, the younger brother of Hermann Göring - the Nazi who headed the German Air Force - freed many Jews who had been arrested by the Gestapo and helped many of them escape to neutral countries.

* İsmail Necdet Kent, the Muslim Turkish Consul General of Marseille in France granted Turkish citizenship to hundreds of Jews, once even jumping aboard a train bound for Auschwitz to save 70 Jews on board by making them Turkish citizens while en route.

* Max Liedtke was a Major in charge of the German Army garrison at Przemyśl, Poland and Albert Battel was a Lieutenant under his command. When the SS came on July 26, 1942 to deport the town's Jews to the Belzec Concentration Camp to be exterminated, Liedtke and Battel had the German soldiers under their command raise their rifles against the SS and threatened to shoot them unless they withdrew, which they did. Before the SS could return with reinforcements, Battel trucked 100 Jews from the town's Jewish ghetto to the German Army barracks, where Liedtke, a Lutheran seminarian, kept them protected.

Travel Tip
To reach Yad Vashem, take the number 99 tourist bus and ask to be let off at the Mount Herzi stop. To reach the Chamber of the Holocaust, tucked away in a small street on Mount Zion, exit Old Jerusalem via Zion Gate and then ask the local women. Avoid the local men sitting at their doorways who offer to take you to the museum if you will just take a moment to step through their doorway and sign their guestbook. If you do that, they will lift a handkerchief covering a "Donation" basket and demand money, so just keep walking. The Chamber of the Holocaust is about 50 yards from them, and the cashier at this "free" site will ask you to donate anyway once you get there.