The First Art Newspaper on the Net   Established in 1996 United States Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Yad Vashem National Holocaust Memorial Starts Collecting Holocaust Items
A garment belonging to an eight years old Holocaust victim named Gitel is displayed on a table after being donated by family members to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial, at a school in Tel Aviv, Israel. Many Israelis donated the only mementos left from relatives who perished in the Holocaust at a collection point in a Tel Aviv school, where the final relics of the Holocaust were being collected for the "Gathering the Fragments" project, launched by Israel's Yad Vashem national Holocaust memorial ahead of the country's annual Holocaust Memorial Day on Monday, May, 2 2011. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit.

By: Aron Heller, Associated Press

TEL AVIV (AP).- Lydia Avidan, an elegant 79-year-old widow, walked into a Tel Aviv high school with tears streaking from beneath her tinted sunglasses. She was about to hand over to historians the only mementos she had left from relatives who perished in the Holocaust — a yellowed, cracked letter she had never read and a faded black-and-white photo of her grandparents.

"It's a part of me and it's hard to let it go," said the gray-haired Avidan, who escaped Poland as a child and settled in Israel. "I've saved them all these years, but once I go they will be lost."

Avidan donated the materials at a collection point in the spartan classrooms of the school, where the final relics of the Holocaust were being collected.

"Gathering the Fragments" is a project launched by Israel's Yad Vashem national Holocaust memorial ahead of the country's annual Holocaust Memorial Day on Monday. The goal is to gather from aging survivors as many artifacts as possible before they — and their stories — are gone forever.

Dozens of Israelis arrived with items that had been stashed away for decades. Researchers questioned them, logged their stories, tagged their materials, then scanned their documents into Yad Vashem's vast digitized archive. With white gloves, they carefully placed larger items into boxes that were later shipped back to the large Yad Vashem compound in Jerusalem.

For many, it was a struggle to part with what had become family treasures, their only physical links to ancestors who perished. In addition to rounding up Jews and shipping them to death camps, the Nazis also confiscated their possessions and stole their valuables, leaving little behind.

Haim Gertner, director of the Yad Vashem archive, said the collection effort could prove vital for both preservation and research purposes, adding depth to the museum's existing exhibits and potentially contributing details to Yad Vashem's huge database of names.

The Nazis murdered 6 million Jews during World War II, wiping out a third of world Jewry. Of the victims, only about 4 million names have been gathered by Yad Vashem, which is racing to collect testimonies as well as the historic belongings from some 200,000 survivors in Israel.

"The Holocaust is a puzzle, and we need to collect the pieces and put them back together," Gertner said. "The Nazis didn't just try to destroy the Jewish people, they tried to destroy its memory ... this is a last minute rescue operation."

Yad Vashem also has the means to maintain historical documents that have been damaged over the passing years. The memorial plans 10 collection dates across the country in the coming year. The first such day, on Apr. 13 in Tel Aviv, produced a variety of letters, pictures, diaries and yellow stars — each telling its own unique story.

One touching donation was a fraying beige sweater with red pockets and green, butterfly-shaped buttons. It belonged to 8-year-old Gitel Londner, who was separated from her parents in Poland in 1943 and perished in Auschwitz shortly after. The sweater is all her parents had to remember her by and they guarded it religiously throughout their own ordeal through Nazi concentration camps and then for 60 years in Israel.

The parents, Ephraim and Mina, had another child after the war. Zehava Mirenberg said her mother never forgave herself for losing Gitel and would never part with the sweater. Mirenberg, 63, said she struggled for years after her parents died over what to do with the sweater but finally decided to donate it for safekeeping.

"It was the most important object to her: she cared for it, folding it carefully, placing it in a bag and staring at it," she said. "In many ways she stayed there, in the Holocaust, and I preserved the sweater in her honor. But I can't pass it on to my children. It's too much of an emotional burden to bear."

Avidan and her parents had escaped in 1939 on a journey that would take them through Romania and Turkey before they arrived in the British-mandated territory that would later become Israel. She never found out what happened to the rest of her family and only assumed they were exterminated in Auschwitz, as was the rest of their town.

An only child, she kept the letter and the picture hidden for years before deciding to come forward after seeing a newspaper ad about the collection drive.

But first she wanted to know what the letter said. Her Polish aristocratic parents never spoke about the war and she only discovered the letter after their deaths. All she knew was that the letter was written by her grandparents in Yiddish and in Polish — languages she could not read — and sent from their home in 1940. She had been afraid to probe beyond that.

Avidan looked on warily as a Yad Vashem translator began reading. The letter was addressed to her mother, who had just arrived in the Holy Land. In it, her parents wished her luck, telling her to rest up after such a long journey and expressing concern about her new home. The grandparents' update included that one of them was ill with a fever. Not a word was written about the situation in Nazi-occupied Poland.

"They didn't believe anything would happen, they thought the Germans would just pass through and things would go back to normal," a tearful Avidan said.

She said she felt relief at finally learning what she had saved all these years and was at peace with handing it over.

"I did what I had to do for their memory," she said. "There is nothing more I can do now."

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.

Today's News

May 3, 2011

Metropolitan Museum of Art Captures Alexander McQueen's Vision of Imperfect Beauty

Sotheby's Presents Its Spring London Sale of Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art

The Villa Schoningen Presents a Selection of Early Works by Andy Warhol

Hollywood, Fashion Elite Recall Alexander McQueen at Metropolitan's Gala

Collection of Hard Rock Cafe Memorabilia to Tour the United States in Big Rig Truck

Major Works by Renoir and Lievens Bought by Visitor to TEFAF Maastricht 2011

More than 1,000 Year-Old Archaeological Pieces from Palenque Studied and Restored

Yardbirds Guitarist Chris Dreja to Display Historical Photographs at ZepFest, Memorial Day

Painter Joan Mitchell Finally Gets Her Due in New Alfred A. Knopf Book by Patricia Albers

Curator Peter Galassi to Retire From the Museum of Modern Art After 30 Years

Artists Paint Over One Thousand Stark Portraits of Chinese Corrupt and Disgraced Officials

Alyson Baker Named Ninth Director of Connecticut's Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum

Street Art Exhibition at Museum of Contemporary Art Prompts Praise and Concern

Yad Vashem National Holocaust Memorial Starts Collecting Holocaust Items

First Comparative Exhibition of Chaim Soutine and Francis Bacon at Helly Nahmad Gallery

Robust Sales, Attendance at Japanese Art Exhibitions During Asia Week New York 2011

Leigh Anne Lester Wins 2011 Hunting Art Prize

New Orleans, Haiti Share Cultural History at Fest

Anthropology Department Receives $1 Million Gift for Mountain Archaeology Fund

Auction Houses Christie's and Sotheby's Gear Up for New York Art Sales

Study by Paleontologists Says Ancient Pre-Human 'Nutcracker Man' Really Ate Grass

Computer Science and Biology Come Together to Make Tree Identification a Snap

Colonial Williamsburg Showcases Maps and Prints

Zoe Ryan Named Art Institute Chair and John H. Bryan Curator of Architecture and Design

Thomas Schwartz Named New Director of Hoover Library

Most Popular Last Seven Days

1.- Art of early man found in the greatest meteor crater on earth

2.- Exhibition celebrates Helmut Newton's 50-year career through a rare and unseen collection of vintage prints

3.- World's most costly painting on Saudi prince's yacht: report

4.- Sotheby's celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing with an auction

5.- Domaine de Chantilly exhibits Leonardo da Vinci's 'Nude Mona Lisa'

6.- New book offers front-row seat to greatest concert in history

7.- The New York Botanical Garden opens its largest botanical exhibition ever

8.- The most famous car in the world: RM Sotheby's presents James Bond Aston Martin DB5

9.- Mexico unearths what may be historic recording of Frida Kahlo

10.- Exhibition of Pierre-Auguste Renoir's paintings marks centenary of his death

Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .


Ignacio Villarreal
Editor & Publisher:Jose Villarreal - Consultant: Ignacio Villarreal Jr.
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez

Royalville Communications, Inc
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
to a Mexican poet.

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful