Monthly Archives: October 2016

​pg viii  In retrospect I must confess that I do not know, or no longerknow, what I wanted to achieve with my words. I only know that without this testimony, my life as a writer-or my life, period. would not have become what it is: that of a witness who believes he has a moral obligation to try to prevent the enemy from enjoying one last victory by allowing his crimes to be erased from human memory

Xv –  SOMETIMES I AM ASKED if I know “the response to Auschwitz”; I answer that not only do I not know it, but that I don’t even know if a tragedy of this magnitude [ms a response. What I do know is that there is “response” in responsibility. When we speak of this era of evil and darkness, so close and yet so distant, “responsibility” is the key word. ‘The witness has forced himself to testify’F or the youth of today, for the children who will be born tomorrow. He does not want his past to become their future. 

Xx – I no longer pleaded for anything. I was no longer able to lament. On the contrary, I felt very strong. I was the accuser, God the accused. My eyes had opened and I was alone, terribly alone in a world without God, without man. Without love or mercy. I was nothing but ashes now, but I felt myself to be stronger than this  almighty to whom my life has been down for so long in the Mists of these men assembled for prayer I felt like an Observer a stranger


PG 1 – on 23 July 1946, a delegation consisting of Colonel Perko, comrade Olejniczak, a Communist part member from Poznan and the chairmen of the Democratic Alliance part in the town of Kalisz visited the local Catholic priest to ask him to co-sign a joint statement condemning the Kielce pogrom, which had taken place on 4th July* In the full knowledge that 43 Jews had been killed during the outrage the parish priest showed no enthusiasm for the initiative, declaring that ‘there would be no need for this if only the Jews would get out’. To counter these antisemitic view the Communist appealed to Father Martuzalski by quoting the fifth commandment (thou shalt not kill) and by pointing out that the Catholics are forbidden to question the wisdom of God, who, as he pointed out, had also created Jews. In response to this display of biblical knowledge Father Martuzalski declarwed that ‘Lice had also been created by God, Nevertheless we kill them.’**

*from Archiwum Akt Nowych, Warsaw (AAN) Central Commitee of the Polish Workers Part – KC PPR 295/VII-149 23 June 1946 Perko to District Secretary of the PPR.

**(from AANKC PPR 295/VII – 149, 23 July 1946)

pg 126 – (talking about Yad Vashem ) Here the biblical and timeless commandment “not to forget” will reverberate for generations to come.

pg 126 – Sixdecades after the horror-filled vents, we realize that many if not all of those who were thrown into the world of darkness and death wanted above all to be remembered. At the end thats all they wanted… at the end their wish was no longer to live, but to survive and tell the tale… (but couldn’t happen) thus in this place… extraordinary efforts are being made, at least, to record and remember their names, their stifled laments, their secret dreams, their tears, and even their agony .

pg 127 (talking about the holocaust,trying to explain why) was it an attempt of the nery to destroy our third temple? Is that why, in midrashic sources, it is described as a temple of fire?

pg 128 – and wehre , near the flames of the ovens, did the most tragic of all witnesses, the members of the sonderkommandos – the dayan from bendzin Reb Arye Langfus or Zalman Gradowski – find the unbelievable strength to write their chronicles? at times one lacks the courage to read them; but if they were strong enough to write, we are duty bound to be strong enough to read.

pg 128 – (talking about survivors of the holocaust)… when some returned to their homes in certain Eastern European countries, they found them occupied by strangers or former neighbours.. who angrily closed the door on them. In some cities they were taken off the train and massacred in broad daylight. Those who went to DP camps were lucky.

[[^^ see the Kielce pogrom for more ]]

pg 129- All we can do is think of the melancholy truth that they lived alone, prayed alone, despaired alone, fought alone, and died alone, Still, whether we know it or not didn’t something in all of us die with them?

pg 92 – My first professional encounter with Yad Vashem occured in 1976…. “Tolka” arad, then chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate, had invited me to design a museum in memory of the children who were murdered. I was given access to the archives and spent days viewing remnants of lost lives. I began to appreciate the nuance of information versus contemplation, confrontation versus meditation. I realised that the visitor emerging from he history museum will already be saturated with information. The children holocaust memorial must therefore be about reflection

pg 93 – The Yad Vashem management reacted with caution and scepticism to my proposal. “People might misunderstand… they might think discotheque” The proposal was shelved. It took a visit of survivors, Abe Spiegel and his wife, edita, who lost their two-year old son in Aushwitz, to resurrect the project.

Obituary Abraham Spiegel, Holocaust Survivor and Wealthy Philanthropist, Dies at 97

The childrens memorial (completed in 1987) was to rpove essential preparation for the great task ahead: to rebuild and reconceive the entrance and museum complex at Yad Vashem – including a new reception building, public services, parking, a new Holocaust history museum, galleries for holocaust art and changing exhibitions, a synagogue, and hall of names- while preserving the administration building, archives, and school and restoring Ohel Yizkor, the Hall of remembrance, which opened in 1961

pg 94 – 95 – The story of the Holocaust is too terrible, uniquely cruel and shameless in the annals of civilization, to be told in normal “galleries” traditional architectural constructions with doors, window frames, hardware, and other detailing. I began thinking of my visits to places created deep in the earth that might provide insight, cappadocia, with its underground cities; and the subterranean chamber of Beit Guvrin in the hills southwest of Jerusalem. I also recalled a photograph that had come my way of the great spaces cut into a stone quarry in spain.

pg 96 (didnt want ornate to show passion etc) only concrete could acheive a sense of the symbolic extension of the monolithic bedrock, free of joints, mortar, or any other embellishments.

pg 96 – The mevoah is thus a framed concrete screen wall, roofed by glass and a delicate trellis. Jerusalems constant sun breaks into an endlessly changing pattern of shadows, a lacework of dark and light lines, dematerializing all who pass within it. “did you mean this to evoke the patterns of the striping of the clothing of the concentration camp inmates?” asked a visitor. I responded that each person will create his or her own associations and symbolic interpretations- architecture is not about prescribing what you ought to feel or think.

pg 96 – The dialogue that ensued between curator, exhibit designer, and architect was intense.

pg 99 – From the outset of the process i felt burdened by the knowledge that the last chapter of the museum, the unwritten chapter, is the most difficult of all. This was apparent in every Holocaust memorial museum i had visited. After the buildup of Nazism, after the death camps, the resistance, the inexplicable dehumization and random death – after the documentation of a black era in history – then what ? [[talking about the opening at the end]] great sense of renewal and the urbanizing hills beyond is to understand that , indeed , life prevailed. we prevailed. It is at this moment in the museum that existentially differentiates Yad Vashem from every other Holocaust museum and memorial.

pg 101 –  No design i have ever undertaken was so charged with symbolic associations. It seemed that every move, form, shape, and sequence elicited multiple interpretations and endless debate. Now that the public has experienced the complex, i am amazed at the diversity of interpretations and reactions. When i am there i often become a voyer, watching visitors reactions and listening to their conversations. I have always wondered if architecture is capable of evoking the same emotions that we experience listening to music. At Yad Vashem i am constantly aware of how intensely personal the feelings provoked are, and how individual and particular. It is at these moments that i feel architecture can, however rarely, move us as deeply as music can.


pg 51-  We were on the verge of a new century . Examining the shaping of identity pointed to young peoples growing interests in the Holocaust. The young whom we were adressing were the leaders of the future. They had learned about the high hopes and optimism for progress that had introudced the twentieth century. Instead, they found the most murderous and burutal century in history – one that witnessed world wars and the holocaust, the murder of the jewish people, an act unprecedented in the annals of humankind. What is more, peoples behavior during the holocaust raised fundamental questiosn regarding humanity.

pg 52 – The ongoing discourse will determine whether the Holocaust becomes just another event to be studied in history books, or whether its examination and memorisation lead to a heightened consciousness of the events significance that can shape the face of civilization. will humankind develop a broad commitments to creedal, religious, and human values…

pg 52 -With these thoughts in mind, we embarked on the redevelopment of Yad Vashem. We elaborated a comprehensive master plan that included the establishment of Yad Vashems international school for Holocaust studies; the online digitisation of the information and knowledge that Yad Vashem had amassed in order to make it easily accessible around the world in an era that has seen a communications revolution; the construction of a new building for the archives and library; the expansion of our research and publication divisions; and the building of a new museum complex. This would transform the focus of Har Hazikaron from mainly a commemorative site into a campus that engages dynamically in education and the dissemination of knowledge in ISrael and abroad, including laying the groundwork for moulding at type of remembrance that would be meaningful and relevant in a rapidly changing world

pg 54- Early in the planning phase we made two definitive decisions. First, the museum would take a Jewish perspective, presenting the story as much as possible from the point of view of the individual Jew and how he or she coped with the Holocaust. Second. The museum would tell a historical narrative with a begin, middle and end… visitors should be able to connect a empathise with the victims.. we did not wish to dictate lessons or messages, over or convert. At the end of their journey, visitors should emerge with unanswered questions, want to make their experience meaningful, and perhaps, ask themselves where their commitments and responsibility lie. For Jewish visitors, we had an additional aim: they should reflect on the continued survival of the Jewish people and its Jewish and human values..

pg 55 – Moshe Safdie’s proposal was selected because it allowed the development of a dialogue between the prism, piercing the innards of the mountain without losing contact with the outside world, and the galleries, which branch off of both sides of the prism in a zigzag pattern that leas to the unexpected contents on display. IN this manner the museum building would establish a supportive and complementary relationship between the architectural dimension and the exhibition design. Safdies solution fused simplicity, expressed in an almost ascetic use of materials, with a sense of power that would reach its pinnacle at the end.

pg 56- we decided to invite viewers to follow the narrative and to prevent them from moving only along the prism. Harel and Safdies suggestion was to open ruptures in the prism floor at the gallery entrances, maintain the sight line along the entire spline. This concept became part of the architecture and of the structure exhibit dialogue. We decided that these ruptures in the floor and their exhibits would represent turning points in the narrative, and that there would be no other exhibits in the prism. In the first trench for example we placed book burning exhibit, symbolising Hitlers accession to power and the intensity of the Nazi revolution, with its destruction of the foundations of western civilisation and epitomised by that annihilation of the Jewish people

pg 61 – Established by the Knesset in 1953, Yad Vashem has become a focal point of identification for every Israeli, Jew, and person of conscience. Although more than sixty years have passed since the end of world war 2 , interest in the Holocaust has never been greater, and close to two million visitors continue to stream through its gates annually, eager to learn more about the most cataclysmic event in modern history and people who lived – died – at that time..

pg 61 – Building on half a century of collection and investigation. Yad Vashem now contains some 68 millions pages of documentation, 112,000 titles in more than 50 languages, and more than 24,000 artiifacts and 10,500 works of art.

pg 63 – From the mount of Remembrance in Jerusalem, Yad Vashem thus continues to strive to imbue the memory of the Holocaust with depth and meaning, and to ensure that the memory of the victims and the voices of the survivors will resonate for all generations. From here, the significance of the holocaust is disseminated to the world – both in its meaning for Jewish continuity and in its universal significance

pg 19 – Also Known as Har Hazikaron (Mount of Remembranec) , Yad Vashem’s forty five acre site is located on the western slopes of Mount Herzl, a hill that houses Jerusalem’s military cemetery as well as the national cemetery where Israeli leaders are laid to rest. in 1957 the first building opened with administration, archive, and library facilities, followed in 1961 by the ceremonial hall of remembrance and a basic exhibit. A museum containing a more permanent exhibition was inaugurated in 1973.

pg 20 – commences a harrowing but unapologetically affirmative journe that recounts the history of the holocaust from its origins in the vibrant culturally rich jewish communities of Europe through to its conclusion – not in the “solution” .. but rather in a redemptive and triumphal Zionist “homecoming”, emotionally evoked by a recording from the 1930s of a childrens choir from Mukacevo, singing “Hatikva”(the hope), which would become the Israeli National anthem. (talking about the balcony) see distant horizon … evidence of human habitation. (the idea of the final solution not working and civilisation still exists)

pg 21  – turns the vistors abruptly to the left upon entering. The gesture not only arrests the visitors steps for a moment before setting him on the circular route to the rights, but creates a driect confrontation with the museums south face, an extruded and vertically compressed fifty foot high triangle. This figure establishes the leitmotif of the building. it also serves as a projection wall for a filmic montage, created by the artist Michal Rovner, that draws fragmentary archival footage depicting Jewish life prior to the Nazi persecution.


pg 21 – inside , along the nearly six hundred foot length of the tunnel, the already compressed triangular geometry is likewise visceral, constricting to its narrowest diameter at one of the darkest points in the curatorial narrative – the extermination of more than 1.1 million Jews at Auschwitz Birkenau – before eventually widening to a generous equilateral conclusion

pg 22-23 – historically and archaeologically layered as Jerusalem, have relied heavily on contextual references – arches and yellow limestone, for example – albeit abstracted into his own language. At Yad Vashe, however, the architecture calls the very idea of context into question. Since the diasporic experience of the Holocaust is not about place but rather displacement. (up until zionist “return”), Safdies decision to construct the museum in the alien, industrial material of concrete rather than in the prescribed Jerusalem limestone – a decision for which he had to get special permission from the municipal building authorities – has particular resonance.

pg 23 The three-sided figure (the triangle form) morphs in the viewers imagination from primitive shelter or tent , to half star of David, to fir tree, to an ark filled with survivors, to more ominously, the pitched roof of a train shed full of deportees or a gas chamber at Treblinka

pg 24 – If the curatorial mission at Yad Vashem is to name the names of those who perished in the Holocaust, even as it is the fate of so many to remain nameless, then the architectural mission is to establish, however paradoxical, a place of displacement.

pg 25 – One of the rare instances where scenography overtakes the function of simple and eloquent presentation and facts coexists uneasily with artifice is in the penultimate gallery, the hall of names. Here a cable-suspended zinc-clad dome overhangs a deep reflecting pool ringed by an elevated viewing platform, while along the perimeter of the circular space binders containing the pages of Testimony of Holocaust victims fills rows of shelves… the collaboration and counterpoint between curatorship and architectural design remain admirably balanced and harmonious.

pg 1 – The emphasis on the idea of common descent is particularly significant because it helps reinforce the identification with a broad entity such as the modern nation.
2 Nations, therefore, attempt to highlight the symbolic connection to the past and cultivate the idea that past generations continue to be symbolically present among the community of the living.