Yad Vashem Calendar Takes a Contemporary Tack

Calendar filled with postcards relating to the Holocaust with some that may be seen as insensitive or even provocative.

Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority, has sent out thousands of copies of a new calendar for the new Jewish year starting this week. The calendar is filled with postcards relating to the Holocaust, and some, it seems, may well be seen by some groups as insensitive or even provocative. Yad Vashem claims in its favor that this is one of the institution's ways to "provide a more relevant and modern expression to the memory of the Holocaust."

One of the posters that stands out in the new calendar appears with the month of December 2012. The calendar features a famous picture of concentration camp prisoners in Bergen-Belsen crowded into their bunk beds - and in the middle of the picture is a large illustration of Bambi. The caption on the picture says "In 1942 Bambi captured our hearts." The picture gives the impression the prisoners are watching the movie. 1942 was the year Walt Disney's famous movie was released, and it was also the year the Final Solution was decided on.

Bambi superimposed - Yad Vashem - 26092011
Yad Vashem

The International School for Holocaust Studies at Yad Vashem has been running a postcard design project for the past decade. Hundreds of design students from all over Israel have taken part, along with professional graphic artists from Israel and abroad, as well as amateur illustrators. After participating in various Yad Vashem seminars, the graphic artists designed the postcards which deal with the Holocaust, its rememberance and significance.

The calendar project was conducted in conjunction with the Neri Bloomfield Wizo Academy of Design and Education and the Shenkar College of Engineering and Design.

The Ministry of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs and the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany also aided in the project.

Einstein's famous E=MC2 equation appears on the January 2012 page, accompanied by the text: "A world without Jews. Think about it." Liav Cohen from Wizo Haifa designed the image.

The picture adorning the Yad Vashem calendar for March 2012 looks like a one-way railroad ticket - and says "One way ticket." Another image shows dress shirts arranged in a closet, where one shirt is part of a concentration camp inmate's uniform. There is also a traffic sign warning of a train crossing with the text "1933-1945."

Iris Rosenberg, the spokeswoman of Yad Vashem and one of the heads of the calendar project, said she does not think the calendar is in bad taste. "Yad Vashem does not deal only with the memory of the Holocaust, but also with the Holocaust in modern terms." The Holocaust is relevant to our lives and teaching the Holocaust is not just a history lesson, said Rosenberg. "The Shoah has for a long time not been just historical facts, but their significance. These works present that," she added.

"There are those who think the Holocaust is only black and white, but even Holocaust survivors think it is necesary to speak in the language of the youth. Of course, without descending to the level of contempt or provocation for the sake of provocation," said Rosenberg. "These works have already been displayed at Yad Vashem and we have never received any complaints against them. It is not meant to anger and it is not a provocation," said Rosenberg.