An advanced new “Shoah Heritage Campus” is to be constructed by Yad Vashem on the Mount of Remembrance in Jerusalem.
The campus will include the new Shoah Heritage Collections Center, a newly renovated auditorium, a Family and Children's Exhibition Gallery and a curatorial center, and is expected to cost in the region of $50 million."
The Collections Center will preserve and house hundreds of millions of Holocaust-era documents, artifacts, photographs and testimonies.
This new archival facility will provide state-of-the-art solutions for the optimal preservation of these records in order to ensure the preservation of the historical record and the stories of victims and survivors of the Holocaust for generations to come.
One such item highlighted by Yad Vashem is the shoe of two-year-old Hinda Cohen, who was deported in 1944 from the Kovno Ghetto in Lithuania to Auschwitz, where she was murdered.
Her parents survived the Holocaust and kept their daughters shoes and gloves, which were later donated by their grandchildren to Yad Vashem to preserve in memory of little Hinda.
The new center has been designed to preserve these kind of artifacts. It will cover an area of almost six square kilometers, will be constructed mostly underground and will provide a high level of control over the conservation climate required for the preservation of the artifacts.
The cornerstone for the center will be laid on Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day this year on May 2, and it is expected to be completed by 2021.
Yad Vashem’s collections include more than 210 million documents, 500,000 photographs, 131,000 survivor testimonies, 32,400 artifacts and 11,500 works of art related to the Holocaust.
The museum adds new items to its collections every year, and because of advancements in preservation and storage technologies, Yad Vashem decided it was necessary to build a new archival center to adequately preserve this documentation, a spokesman for Yad Vashem said.
The center will include galleries for the display of items from Yad Vashem’s Collections, specially designed storage facilities, preservation laboratories visible to visitors and work areas for the professional staff of Yad Vashem.
The facilities will be made accessible to researchers, educators and members of the public and some of the documents and artifacts will be made available for online access as well.
The new the center will also enable the process of receiving, preserving and cataloging items collected by Yad Vashem to be streamlined.
“The German Nazis were determined not only to annihilate the Jewish people, but also to obliterate their identity, memory, culture and heritage,” said Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev.
“For many, all that remains are a treasured work of art, a personal artifact that survived with them, a photograph kept close to their person, a diary, or a note. By preserving these precious items – that are of great importance not just to the Jewish people, but also to humanity as a whole – and revealing them to the public, they will act as the voice of the victims and the survivors, and serve as an everlasting memory.”
The story of Hinda Cohen is one of the countless such accounts from the Holocaust.
Tzipporah Cohen, married to Dov, gave birth to Hinda in January 1942 inside the Kovno ghetto where they had been transferred with the rest of the Jewish population of the city.
In late November 1943, the couple was assigned to forced labor at the Aleksotas camp for airport workers, situated outside the ghetto.
On the morning of 27 March 1944, exactly 75 years ago today, the adult Jewish prisoners were taken for forced labor and while they were away, trucks were brought in to the ghetto to remove all of the children, who were brought to the train station and then sent to Auschwitz where they were murdered, including two-year-old Hinda.
When Dov and Tzipporah returned to the ghetto, they rushed to their daughter’s bed, and in despair found it empty.
Later on, underneath the bed, the couple found a pair of Hinda’s shoes, as well as the gloves Tzipporah had knitted for her. Dov took one of the little shoes, engraved the date of the Aktion on the sole, and swore to keep the shoe forever.
It was eventually donated to Yad Vashem by their granddaughter in accordance with her grandparents wishes, as part of the center’s “Gathering the Fragment’s” campaign.
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