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What is Yad Vashem?

The roughly 6 million victims of the Holocaust are memorialized by Yad Vashem.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 07 April 2014
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Yad Vashem is an Israeli organization which preserves the memory of the Holocaust and its victims, along with the heroes who helped the Jewish people during this dark period in global history. This organization was founded by an act of Parliament in 1953, and it is considered the official Israeli state agency for Holocaust remembrance. Yad Vashem plays a number of roles, and welcomes interest in the history of the Holocaust and the Jewish people.

One of the most important roles of Yad Vashem is as an archive of Holocaust-related materials. Yad Vashem's sprawling complex on the Mount of Remembrance in Jerusalem houses an extensive collection of documents, photographs, and other materials from the Holocaust, along with numerous texts written about the Holocaust. In addition, Yad Vashem has a formal memorial for the estimated six million victims of the Holocaust in the Hall of Names, which attempts to humanize each victim to magnify the human impact of the Holocaust.

The organization also commemorates the Righteous Among the Peoples, people who assisted the Jewish people in some way during the Holocaust. Many people celebrated as Righteous Among the Peoples helped to save Jewish people from certain death by hiding them or smuggling them out of dangerous nations, and people from all over the world are recognized with this prestigious state honor.

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Yad Vashem also maintains museums which cover various aspects of the Holocaust, and it has outreach programs to provide education in Israel and abroad. Visitors to the Yad Vashem complex can visit the extensive Holocaust museum on the site and wander through gardens and various memorials. Yad Vashem also hosts annual remembrance ceremonies and memorials, and welcomes diplomatic visitors from a wide range of nations.

This organization ensures that the Israeli people and the world will never forget about the events of the Holocaust, and it also documents the rich and complex history of the Holocaust. Its archives include interviews with Holocaust survivors, official documents from concentration camps, personal belongings of Holocaust victims, and a wide variety of other items which are intended to personalize and humanize the Holocaust for visitors.

Visitors to Jerusalem are highly encouraged to visit Yad Vashem's facilities, as they contain a great deal of fascinating material, illustrating that there is always more to learn about history. Many people also find the experience of visiting to be very emotional.

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