Ten Years Since the Ghetto Uprising
This poster, marking ten years since the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, shows the wall of the ghetto, a memorial torch, a bloody sword, and a Star of David.
In the early 1950s, public focus was largely on the suffering and loss inflicted on the Jewish people. The Holocaust was a very sensitive topic. Many Israelis judged the European Jews harshly, believing they had been led “like sheep to the slaughter.” The survivors, on the other hand, were struggling to recover from their physical and physiological traumas and rebuild their lives.
In 1953, the Knesset legislated that Yom Hashoah, Israeli Holocaust Remembrance Day would be held on Nissan 27 (immediately after Pesach) and would be an official memorial day. The day is marked with official ceremonies which include the recitation of Kaddish, the mourner's prayer, a two-minute siren for silent reflection, and the closure of places of entertainment. In the early days, Yom Hashoah focused mainly on Jewish resistance to the Nazi occupation. In the later years, the focus shifted to the bravery of surviving the bitter war years. It is a day to remember the past and to say to the world: “Never again!”
Yom HaShoah, Jewish Virtual Library
The Holocaust Survivors Who Fell in Israel’s 1948 War of Independence, Jewish Press, Anav Silverman, 5 May 2014
Describe this poster. What is its message?
What is the date of Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day? Why was this date chosen? What does it tell us about the focus on Holocaust remembrance in the years immediately after the war?
Most Holocaust survivors came to Israel with nothing, and many felt that though they were free, the challenges they faced were still daunting.
Discuss this paradox about being free yet nonetheless facing terrible hardships. (For example, living alone without many loved ones who had been murdered, leaving their homes and establishing themselves in a new country, physical and mental illness caused by the war, losing their faith in humanity.)
What do you think would have been the most difficult? Why?
Some of the soldiers that died in Israel’s War of Independence in 1948 were Holocaust survivors (see article above). Some felt that the freedom to die for their own people was more important than the fact they had already survived so much.
Stage a debate between two young men in 1947. Both are survivors and must approach their loved ones to explain why one will join the army and one will not.