Saturday, February 16, 2008

Yad Vashem

Travelling through Israel leads to the invariable conversations about the Holocaust. It's a strange thing, but there are always little reminders everywhere.

A memorial, survivors running the museums.

The past is definitely still alive.

With this in mind, I knew the next place that I was off to visit.

The Holocaust Museum and Memorial.

Yad VaShem.
Situated in the forests on the edge of Jerusalem, it's a scenic and peaceful place.

I caught the bus out there. It dropped me outside the grounds, leaving me to walk in.

It was nice. A peaceful and serene walk through a calm forest.

As I got closer, I could see the structures appearing.
The museum inside is a touching place. The stories and the items of those who survived and didn't survive are clearly shown and on display. It's set underground, so you enter at one end, walk through what is essentially a long tunnel underground before appearing on the other side.

When you walk out, this is the scene that is before you.
The entire walk through the museum is moving and confronting. Seeing the faces, seeing the names. It's difficult to look at.

Outside of the museum are quiet gardens and smaller memorials to more specific groups.
This is the garden dedicated to the communities that were destroyed.
Inside the garden, there is a small memorial for people to dedicate to their loved ones.
To the side was a beautifully made memorial to those who were sent to the camps.
The train that terminates to nowhere.
A very fitting memorial.
There were plenty of visitors at Yad VaShem, and yet the way it is constructed you don't feel it. There is a sense of isolation that follows you. Even with all the people around, you feel alone.

The most confronting memorial was the last one I walked to.

It was the memorial to the children who were killed in the Holocaust.
As I walked underground into this final memorial. I felt a slight chill. The further I walked in, the darker it became.

Soon, I found myself walking through a completely darkened tunnel. The only thing that was leading me was a feint light at the end of the tunnel.

I slowly walked towards it.

As I turned the corner in the tunnel, what was before me was disturbing and depressing.

Children's faces, just floating in the darkness. Moving and changing from face to face. The faces of children who would never grow up, who would never see anything but suffering.

Further inside, there was a simple light. Reflected by dozens of mirrors, it lit up the small room in the middle of the memorial. In the background, I could hear a lone voice slowly reciting the names of the children. Name after name, life after life.

I walked out of the children's memorial feeling awful.

No comments: