There are two or three Jewish cemeteries in Alexandria: Cemetery 1 is located in Shatby, not far away from the iconic building of the new Bibliotheca Alexandrina. I met my guide in front of the library and we walked to the cemetery. It is the same location I visited last year. The gate was open, we entered and the guard was there siting on an aged chair. Unlike last year, this year he was indifferent towards our presence. In our previous visit in 2015, he was enthusiastic to show us around and to demonstrate his knowledge of the history of the vast amount of graves. This year, however, he barely moved of his chair or even took off his headphones.
Named the “The Ark of the Generations” by the artist Ardyn Halter (1953-), this detailed piece was commissioned for Robert Maxwell (1923-1991) by his wife Elisabeth (1921-2013) and presented for his 65th birthday in 1988. It is made of American cedar wood; the size is 16.25” wide by 24” tall by 6” deep. The “Ark” houses an indelible record of the fate of Robert Maxwell’s family during the Holocaust that catalyzed a second academic 'career' for Dr. Elisabeth Maxwell as a globally recognized Holocaust scholar. This brief overview describes the multi-faceted work through the unique lenses of the artist, the recipient, and the scholar. The “Ark” presently resides within the Elisabeth Maxwell Holocaust Archive, courtesy of her estate.Read More
On a bleak February day in 1944, a French gendarme snatched a pair of dolls from two Jewish sisters about to be deported to Auschwitz, and flung them to the ground.
Denise and Micheline Lévy, aged 10 and 9 when the gendarme bundled them out of their school in the eastern French village of Gemeaux, never returned.Read More
Sometimes paintings are objects that derive meaning not just because of what they portray or their monetary value but also for what they represent to a viewer.
Henri Matisse, who eventually would become a devoted art collector, acquired Paul Cézanne’s Three Bather (1879-1882) in 1899.Read More
A memory is like a piece of glass intricately placed in the mosaic of life. Memory is powerful. A certain smell, a particular sound, a familiar touch, a childhood snack, or a random object – all hold the cognitive power to instantly flood an individual with memories of a particular moment in time. Yet concomitant with the power of one’s positive associations with a memory, there can also be negative associations with one’s memory of an object. For instance, before Auschwitz, a pile of shoes was merely a pile of shoes; whereas, after Auschwitz, a pile of shoes became the shoes a boy wore on his first day of kindergarten, the shoes a girl wore the summer she learned to jump rope, or the shoes a mother wore on the Sabbath.Read More
An unnamed poet once said that the death of a child is the loss of infinite possibility. During the Holocaust, approximately one and a half million Jewish children under the age of fifteen were murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators. If the death of just one child reflects the loss of infinite possibilities, it is completely beyond human comprehension to consider the loss humanity suffered with the death of so many Jewish infants, toddlers, youths and teenagers. Unlimited potential was snuffed out with little more thought than when someone snuffs out a candle.
The loss of what might have come to this world from the children murdered during the Holocaust can be epitomized by a pair of small baby shoes held in the Yad Vashem collection. The tiny shoes powerfully illustrate the loss of innocence and humanity that occurred during the Holocaust. One can only guess at the great things the child who once wore those shoes might have brought to this world.Read More
The online display of Yad Vashem’s Artifacts Collection adapts the storytelling approach. The aesthetics of the main webpage of the Artifacts Collection are noticeably different from the aesthetics of the Museum’s main webpage[i]. In contrast to the clean-cut white background of the main webpage, the light brown background of the Artifacts Collection webpage represents the color and texture of old papers, which emphasizes the authenticity of the objects displayed[ii]. This sentimental design approach would not normally be the choice of most scholarly accredited web archives. For example, the archive of the Artifacts Collection of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) has a clear white background. The collection is organized by themes, and informative in a straightforward manner, each icon is linked to a short paragraph with basic historical information and at the bottom of the page, there are several links to related articles and so on[iii].Read More
According to Jennifer Hansen-Glucklich, museums are often conceptualized as containers for memory, and in a certain sense this metaphor rings true; after all, museums with a historical focus are places devoted to constructing a particular view of the past and to putting that chosen past on display, thereby claiming to offer the visitor a window to another time and place for brief moments. More fundamentally, “the framing of the authentic artifacts, the display of photographic images, and the commission of the original artworks in Holocaust museums and exhibits do not simply illustrate the story being told; rather, they are story, and they largely determine how we remember the past and, therefore, how we understand the present”Read More
Artifacts are more than just material things. They communicate ideas, symbolize values, and convey emotions. When we consider meaning, value, and significance, we are in the domain of cultural history. Different artifacts mean different things to different people, and those meanings change over time.Read More
Memory maketh the man – we are who we are thanks to our experiences. They’re sometimes comforting, sad, traumatic and always make good anecdotes. We obviously don’t carry all our memories in crystal clear form around in our head, but they’re there, lurking – all they need is a trigger to bring them out.Read More