Yad Vashem – Moshe Safdie – The architecture of memory (by Avner Shalev)

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


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