As this was my 4th trip to Israel, I have visited my fair share of holocaust museums. Not that I dont enjoy seeing the history, but it is hard to look at and even more difficult to take it all in. The pictures just dont seem real. It is unfathomable to think that humans could do such things to other humans. Some 6 million Jews were killed in the holocaust and what is even worse is that people today deny it ever happened.
Well, after we left the Youth Leadership Park, we headed to what I thought was going to be another holocaust museum. I had braced myself for the images of death and for the trials and tribulations I was about to hear. I had told myself, that just like in the Yad Vashem, if the pictures were too much, I would just walk through to the end and wait for the rest of the group as I have done on previous experiences.
But this museum was different.
We pulled up to the ‘museum’ and this is what we saw:
A house. I was a little confused as our guide began to explain. He said that the museum we were going to was located in a small home. The owners of the home are both holocaust survivors and have dedicated their lives to gathering memorabilia and sharing memories of those who were lost. The couple lives in the house, on the bottom floor below the museum. And with that explanation, off we went.
The gentleman on the left in the gray and the woman in the background also in gray are the husband and wife who own the home. The lady in the pink scarf translated for them. She first told the testimony of the wife named Irena:
Irena was 4 years old when the holocaust began. She was given to her grandparents in the ghetto of Shamash (sp?) so her parents could save her. Her grandmother passed her on to a pheasant who raised her as a Christian.
After the holocaust, she was taken from the home that had lovingly raised her and given back to her father. He told her she was Jewish and to no longer be a Christian and she was sent off to boarding school. In 1948 she moved to Israel.
Kubyan when he was young used to jump the walls of the ghetto to go to the streets and beg for food. In 1942, his parents were sent to Treblinka one of the 6 death camps. Kubyan and his brother were taken to an ammunition camp. In 1944, they escaped through the fence and were not caught. They lived for 8 months in a well in the ground and eventually after the holocaust ended he moved to Israel.
Upon moving to Israel, they met each other an eventually married. While they have given everything to have this museum and be able to share the stories, that is as much as they will share about themselves. As Kubyan often questions why he survived and why millions perished, he realizes his destiny is to perpetuate their memory. Other than their brief testimonies shared, they do not like to talk about anything further as for the rest of his life, he will see friend after friend going to the gas chamber.
Since then, they have been reunited with family members who also survived and have since moved to Israel.
These statues were created by an artist who lived through the holocaust. Each one portrays an image and includes the name of the person and how the artist remembered them. It was very important to remember those who lost their lives in holocaust by their name -not by the number that was given, worn and tattooed on them.