‘Crown jewels of the Jewish people’: Preserving memories of the Holocaust

A restorer uncovers a painting depicting Hitler at the new David and Fela Shapell Family Collections Center in Yad Vashem, Israel's official Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem, on July 3, 2024. With the survivor generation shrinking and antisemitism on the rise around the world, Israel's Holocaust memorial is stepping up efforts to safeguard its vast collection of artifacts and testimony. [Amit Elkayam/The New York Times]

JERUSALEM - The pictures are haunting: black-and-white prints of a snow-covered barracks and paintings bordered by wire fences and skeletal trees, grim depictions of a World War II camp in France where Jews were interned before being transported to concentration camps.

The artist, Jacques Gotko, created one picture using a background of crushed eggshells glued to a wooden board; for others he used a piece of old tire as a printing block. Those were just some of the few materials available to him at the camp where he was held before being transported to Drancy, another camp in France, then Auschwitz-Birkenau, in Poland, in 1943.

Fragile and rarely displayed, these works are part of a massive repository of Holocaust-related artifacts - among them millions of pages of documents, tens of thousands of pages of testimony, artworks and personal belongings...

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