Today I visited Yad Vashem, Israel's official Holocaust commemorative site, on the Hill of Remembrance (Har Harzikaron) on the western edge of Jerusalem. The memorial consists of a visitor centre leading to the main museum, a complex of other buildings used for education and research, and extensive grounds in which are located many memorials. The site was inaugurated in 1954, but since 2000 it has been almost completely rebuilt, with the new museum opening in 2005. This is the front of the visitor centre.

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(Courtesy of Adam Carr)

This inscription appears on one of the pillars of the Visitor Centre's entrance.

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(Courtesy of Adam Carr)

Before entering the museum, I walked around part of the grounds. This is the beginning of the Garden of the Righteous Among the Nations, in which trees are planted to commemorate hundreds of non-Jewish people who saved Jews from the Nazis.

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(Courtesy of Adam Carr)

This is one of the memorial plaques. Poles are the largest single national group among the Righteous.

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(Courtesy of Adam Carr)

This is the memorial plaque for Sempo Sugihara, the Japanese Consul in Lithuania, who saved 6,000 Jews from death by issuing them with Japanese transit visas.

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(Courtesy of Adam Carr)

Further on is the Children's Memorial, to the 1.5 million Jewish children who died in the Holocaust. Photos are not permitted inside the memorial.

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(Courtesy of Adam Carr)

Like most of the memorials at Yad Vashem, the Children's Memorial was funded by private donors. Signs like this appear all over the grounds.

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(Courtesy of Adam Carr)

This memorial in the form of a candelabra is one of many pieces of commemorative art in the Yad Vashem grounds. Some are of greater artistic merit than others.

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(Courtesy of Adam Carr)

The Pillar of Heroism (1970) is one of the official commemorative landmarks at Yad Vashem. It deliberately evokes the image of the cremaorium chimneys at the Nazi extermination camps.

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(Courtesy of Adam Carr)

Janusz Korczak Plaza honours the memory of Dr Janusz Korczak, a Polish-Jewish humanitarian who ran an orphanage in the Warsaw Ghetto. He and the 200 children of the orphanage died in Treblinka in 1942.

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(Courtesy of Adam Carr)

This is the entrance to the new museum, where no photography is allowed. The museum presents a complete history of the Nazi Holocaust, including video interviews with survivors and a lot of archival footage of pre-war Jewish life in Europe. I spent two hours in the museum, a very draining experience.

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(Courtesy of Adam Carr)

The museum is structured as a long, dark tunnel, an obvious metaphor for the experience of the Jews of Europe under Nazi rule. At the end of the tunnel, the visitor emerges into bright sunlight, and sees a glorious view of Jerusalem. The political message is very obvious - the creation of the state of Israel, with Jerusalem as its capital, marked the emergence of the Jewish people from darkness into light.

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(Courtesy of Adam Carr)

There are more memorials in the grounds behind the museum. This one commemorates the death march from Dachau concentration camp in the last weeks of the war.

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(Courtesy of Adam Carr)

This is the Memorial to the Jewish Partisans and Resistance Fighters. Yad Vashem is at pains to highlight Jewish acts of resistance to the Holocaust. Without denying the reality of resistance, this does create a rather misleading impression, since the great majority of Jewish victims of the Holocaust went to their deaths without resistance (mostly because they had no opportunity to resist).

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(Courtesy of Adam Carr)

Another memorial with the same theme is the Partisans' Panorama, a lookout over Jerusalem.

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(Courtesy of Adam Carr)

Heading down the hill, the visitor reaches the Memorial Cave, a chapel in the side of the hill, in which a large number of private family memorials are set on the walls as plaques. The main quotation explains the derivation of the name "Yad Vashem."

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(Courtesy of Adam Carr)

A long walk down the hill leads to the Valley of Communities, a maze of alleys formed by large blocks of stone. On these are inscribed the names of all the Jewish communities of pre-war Europe, the majority of which (particularly in central and eastern Europe) were destroyed by the Nazis.

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(Courtesy of Adam Carr)

Heading back up the hill towards the exit, the visitor finds the Memorial to the Deportees, in the form of a Reichsbahn (German Railways) cattle wagon perched on the edge of a precipice - a very powerful image. The German Railways (now called Deutsche Bahn) has recently acknowledged its major role in the Holocaust by staging a memorial exhibition in Berlin.

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(Courtesy of Adam Carr)

This testimony from a survivor of the deportation trains accompanies the memorial.

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(Courtesy of Adam Carr)

Further along is the Garden of the Righteous Among the Nations, in which the names of more than 22,000 non-Jews who helped save the lives of Jews during the Holocaust are recorded on plaques.

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(Courtesy of Adam Carr)

Once again, evidence of the large number of Poles who risked their lives helping Polish Jews is striking.

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(Courtesy of Adam Carr)

The last memorial before returning to the Visitor Centre is Warsaw Ghetto Square, which commemorates the largest single act of Jewish resistance to the Holocaust, the Warsaw Ghetto Rising of April-May 1943. The commemorative sculpture is a replica of the one on the Ghetto Rising memorial in Warsaw. This is a little unfortunate, because the Warsaw memorial is a typical product of the Communist period, showing the ghetto fighters striking heroic poses which have little to do with reality. And of course, as many have noted, none of the figures looks in the least bit Jewish.

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(Courtesy of Adam Carr)

A much more realistic note is struck by the accompanying frieze of Jews being deported to their deaths. This is also a copy of a work at the Warsaw Ghetto site.

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(Courtesy of Adam Carr)

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