Papal Representative to Visit New Holocaust Museum

Cardinal Tauran to Go to Jerusalem on John Paul II's Behalf

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ROME, MARCH 14, 2005 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II sent Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, archivist and librarian of the Holy Roman Church, as his representative to the inauguration of a new Holocaust museum in Jerusalem.



The new museum, some 10 years in the making, will replace the current historical museum at Yad Vashem. The Vatican Press Office today announced the cardinal's appearance at the inauguration.

Heads of state and government from at least 15 countries, as well as U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and dozens of other nations' leaders and dignitaries, will join Israeli President Moshe Katzav, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and other officials in inaugurating the museum Tuesday.

They will then participate in a special assembly at Yad Vashem on Wednesday morning, the museum said in a press statement.

"Four times the size of the current Historical Museum, the New Holocaust History Museum at Yad Vashem will have two dimensions, informational and experiential," the statement said.

"It tells the story of the Shoah from the point of view of the Jews; the victims are the focus, instead of being portrayed as anonymous objects being acted upon by their persecutors. Visitors will leave with a wider perspective on the protection of humanity's basic values and Jewish continuity," the statement said.

"It is impossible to understand the Holocaust and absorb its meaning without learning about those who were most directly affected -- the Jews," explained Avner Shalev, chief curator of the new museum.

"As such, we have made every effort to present a full picture of the Shoah -- every artifact, document, story and picture that would give the visitor a sense of what the Shoah was and who the people were who experienced it was carefully considered," Shalev said. "With more than 2,500 items in the museum, we tried to include both the unique and the representative."

The museum uses genuine artifacts to give visitors an impression of the world that existed at the time. Near the beginning of the narrative, for example, visitors can walk around a typical living room of a Jewish family in Germany during the 1930s, re-created from belongings donated by a number of such families.

In a separate room, visitors can conduct searches of the digitized database of Holocaust victims' names. See www.yadvashem.org.