03/15/2005, 00.00
ISRAEL
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New Holocaust Museum opens at Yad Vashem

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) – Yad Vashem today inaugurates its new Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem. Some 40 dignitaries from all over the world, including UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, nine heads of state, six prime ministers and four foreign ministers will be there. Card Jean-Louis Tauran, the Vatican archivist, is acting as the Pope's personal representative at the opening ceremony.

Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority, was established in 1953 to document the history of the Jewish people during the Holocaust period, and preserve the memory and story of its six million victims. Thus far, the names of 3 million known Jewish victims have been stored on computer disks.

The new museum is dug into Har Hazikaron, the Mount of Remembrance. It presents itself as a 180 metres–long linear structure in the form of a spike cuts through the mountain with its uppermost edge—a skylight—protruding through the mountain ridge. On top, the Hall of Remembrance where an eternal flame, surrounded by the names of 22 of the major concentration camps, is lit every day in memory of those murdered. John Paul II himself participated in the lighting ceremony when he came to the Holy Land on an official visit in 2000.

Poignant is the Children's Memorial, a tribute to the approximately one and a half million Jewish children who perished during the Holocaust. Its hall is hollowed out from an underground cavern; in it memorial candles are reflected infinitely in a dark and sombre space. The names of murdered children, their ages and countries of origin can be heard in the background.

Inside the museum, a 30 metres column bears the word: Zhkor, Remember; in front of it, the Avenue of the Righteous Among the Nations, with its 2000 trees symbols of the renewal of life, honouring the non-Jews who risked their lives to help Jews during the Holocaust..

The name Yad Vashem comes from a Biblical verse: "I will give, in my house and within my walls, a monument and a name [. . .]" (Isaiah, 56: 5). In Hebrew, 'a monument and a name' are 'yad vashem'.

The complex also includes the Holocaust Resource Center and International School for Holocaust Studies.

 

 

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