A Message to the Museum Community –
Content Warning: This statement includes references to sexual violence.
As a Holocaust Museum, we are tasked with preserving, and teaching, a deeply traumatic history. The narrative of the Holocaust is one challenging to bear, but it is one we must strive to understand.
The tragedies of today often echo those of the past. We hear those echoes in the silencing of stories of the Jewish women who endured the unimaginable horror of sexual violence within Nazi-run ghettos and camps. These women faced the harrowing reality of gender-based violence – a deeply distressing yet frequently forgotten aspect of the Holocaust.
As we look to the past, we acknowledge that the darkest chapters are not confined solely to history.
Whether inflicted upon Jewish women during the Holocaust, or Israeli women by Hamas, an unacceptable reality persists – sexual violence has, throughout history, served as a horrifying weapon of war.
Today, we bear witness to Hamas’ unspeakable acts against innocent Jewish women and men. Their pain, their trauma, is real, and in the face of such brutality, silence is not an option.
In recognizing the gendered nature of these attacks, we acknowledge the profound impact on the women brutalized by these heinous acts. While some men suffered from such violence at the hands of Hamas – and their pain too must be acknowledged and recognized – the extensive, and specific, impact on Israeli women is part of a long history of gender-based violence during wartime.
Those who experienced such atrocities are largely unable to tell their stories — some were brutally murdered, others remain held hostage by Hamas, and still others are not yet ready to share their experiences.
History is again our guide as we open our hearts and minds to bear witness to and remember the stories bravely recounted, and those still untold.
In the face of these unspeakable atrocities, words seem inadequate. The level of cruelty transcends the boundaries of language — a brutality so profound that our vocabulary falters in its attempt to encapsulate the depth of our sorrow, outrage, and pain.
We condemn these appalling acts and the insidious attempts to silence the voices of survivors and victims must not go unchallenged.
The bridge to a better future is built on lessons from the past. The testimonies of the survivors and the victims – both past and present – require acknowledgment. We hear their voices and will share their stories. They guide us toward a world where we unite our voices against all forms of hate.