Holocaust Remembrance Day: A look at Israel's hidden memorial

 | Updated: Jan 27, 2021, 02:12 PM IST

As Holocaust Remembrance Day marks 25 years, let's take a look at the Chamber of Holocaust, which is a memorial site of Jewish victims of World War II. 

Chamber of the Holocaust

A little-known memorial site for Jewish victims of the Holocaust lies on the slope of Mount Zion.

The Chamber of the Holocaust is a six-room cellar whose walls are covered with gravestones. It is believed to be the burial place of the biblical King David and next to the site where, according to Christian tradition, Jesus held the Last Supper.


Establishment of memorial

The memorial was established in 1949, four years after the end of World War Two and a year after Israel was founded, as Holocaust survivors who came as refugees to the country sought a place to mourn their families.

The memorial commemorates one of the greatest horrors of modern times.


Chamber as symbolic cemetery

The Chamber of the Holocaust was built as a symbolic cemetery, as a place for Holocaust survivors to come and mourn for their families.

Ashes of victims were interred there and the hundreds of gravestones that cover the walls commemorate the Jewish villages and towns whose communities were wiped out by the Nazis.


Artefacts of survivors

The chamber displays artefacts brought from Europe by survivors such as scorched Torah scrolls, a jacket and drum the Nazis had Jewish prisoners make out of Torah parchments and the striped prisoner uniforms worn in concentration camps.


Historical memorial less known to Israelis

Israel's official Holocaust memorial - the massive Yad Vashem complex, the Holocaust Chamber is funded largely by private donations and is far less known to Israelis and tourists alike.



Sculpture commemorating children of Holocaust

'We were just walking around and we found this museum,' said Viera Barlikova, a 27-year-old tourist who was travelling in the Holy Land with her brother. 'We come from Slovakia and that dark part of history also touched us.'


Victims of the Holocaust

6 million Jews were systematically annihilated between 1939 and 1945. Since 1996, survivors of the Nazi regime and world leaders have been invited to address the German Bundestag each year on January 27 to commemorate the Holocaust.

At the launch, President Herzog said that "Victims of the Holocaust" would have been "too narrow a term, as Nazi racial policies affected more people than just the Jews." The chosen date was January 27, the day the Nazi extermination camp Auschwitz was liberated by Soviet soldiers in 1945.

On this day in 1998, Israeli historian Yehuda Bauer addressed the Bundestag, the German parliament. Bauer, who had been born in Prague in 1926, recalled other genocides that shaped the 20th century: Rwanda in 1994, Cambodia from 1975-79 and Armenia in 1915-16.