A memorial complex on Poklonnaya Hill in Moscow’s Victory Park perpetuates millions of people who fell in the Second World War. It comprises a synagogue and a museum dedicated to the memory of the Jews who died during the Holocaust. Opened in 1998, it is Russia’s first museum of Jewish history. It displays documents and relics demonstrating the horrors of the genocide against the Jews. The Memorial Synagogue and the museum are part of a religious complex on Poklonnaya Hill, which also includes a Muslim mosque and a Russian Orthodox church, both dedicated to those who fell in the Second World War.
The building itself, erected by architects Moshe Zarkhi and Vladimir Budayev, is a fine example of modern Jewish religious architecture. At the entrance to the synagogue is a stone menorah, or a seven-branched candelabrum, which is one of the generally recognized symbols of Judaism, along with the Star of David. The synagogue’s walls feature the tragically known yellow Star of David with the word Jude, a badge that Jews were required to wear in Nazi Germany to show that anyone could treat them badly with impunity….
The museum’s exhibition is divided into two parts. In the upper hall, visitors will learn the history of the Jewish people. The museum staff will show you how to roll and unroll a sacred Torah scroll and will explain you why the Torah must be read every single day without interruption. You will see ceremonial candlesticks, pointers and besamim incense boxes. Bells and crowns decorating Torah scrolls are also displayed here. On view is a map showing how the Jews appeared and migrated throughout Russia and what the “Jewish Pale” is. You will learn about the role of the Jewish people in the Russian Revolution of 1917 and in other notable events in Russian history. The best way to visit this museum is by joining a guided tour and the museum staff will readily tell you the exciting story of every exhibit on view.
Don’t miss the opportunity to visit a real prayer hall on your visit to Poklonnaya Hill. Decorated by the well-known Jewish sculptor Frank Meysler, this venue is considered as one of the world’s best Jewish prayer halls.
Part of the Synagogue’s exhibition is devoted to the commitment of representatives of various ethnic groups who lived in the Soviet Union and risked their lives to save their Jewish neighbours on the territories occupied by the Nazis. These courageous people were later honoured as ‘The Righteous Among The Nations’. Some of them saved a Jewish child from death, others helped out a great many genocide victims. On display is the medal of the Righteous One bearing the following inscription: “Whoever Saves One Life Saves the World Entire”.
In the Memorial Synagogue, they still say prayers for those who died on those dark days. A 150-year-old Torah is unrolled and those gathered there listen to the sacred text. Today, we who live in peace should not forget the great sacrifice of the Jewish people or all those who fell victim to the Holocaust. The history of this mass genocide is told in the hall on the Museum’s first floor.
For all time
Many Russian archives, the State Museum of the History of Religion and the State Historical Museum participated in the creation of the exhibition dedicated to Holocaust victims. On view are documents, photographs, personal belongings, letters and other items dating back to the World War II and related to the history of the Jewish people.
Photographs hanging on the walls show emaciated faces reminding visitors of the horrific genocide that took the lives of approximately six million Jews. The walls feature fragments of barbed wire and glass-cases display authentic documents and photographs of that time. Visitors cannot help riveting their attention on the evidence of this large-scale crime. These photographs showing Holocaust victims is a chilling reminder of the sacrifice of the Jews and an eternal reproach to those who support the genocide of any minorities. Some visitors say that the museum left a depressive impression on them, but it is hard to imagine what else one can feel after having a look at the map showing how many people died in each Nazi concentration camp.
One of the most impressive exhibits is a tombstone, such as those used to pave streets in Brest as a sign of contempt for the Jewish people. The exhibition also features authentic letters from ghettos and personal belongings of the victims of Nazism. Here you can also learn about exploits of Jews who fought in WWII. The museum organizes regular excursions and lectures and screens films on the history of the Jewish people. The museum’s awareness-raising work is directed at increasing tolerance in society.© 2016-2023 moscovery.com