YAD VASHEM: ONCE EXPERIENCED – NEVER FORGOTTEN

It’s my third visit to Yad Vashem in Jerusalem and the impact is no less powerful than the first. The Holocaust Museum is set in a beautiful forest. Strangely, Auschwitz – Birkenau was ‘attractive’, surrounded by trees, but the stench was nauseous. The tragic timeline of events pile on me layer by layer, as I’m bombarded by videos and displays of Jewish isolation and persecution. Then Nazi Germany took the evil to its highest level – extermination.

I walk over hundreds of shoes, protected with a clear perspex cover, cross the railroad tracks of Auschwitz set into the floor, and then later, in the display of the gas chambers, the rail lines are met with a solid buffer – the end of the line.

The harrowing stories accumulate, and then, the huge, final hall, on the right hand side, just before the exit – photographs of thousands of holocaust victims cover the dome-shaped ceiling. I fight back tears.

The Children’s Memorial is a separate building. I walk, almost blindly into the darkness and allow the railing to be my guide. It’s as though I’ve walked into the universe – flickering with millions of stars. In my short ten minute struggle through the darkness, I hear the names of just a few of the 1.5 million children murdered during the Holocaust. You need to circulate many days to hear the name of every child.

Yad Vashem – once experienced, never forgotten.

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© 2017 by David Kerr