The Birth Pangs of the Holocaust Research in Israel
The article analyzes the difficulties encountered in developing Holocaust research in Israel. When Yad Vashem was established by law in 1953, the first directorate included two opposing groups: Israel academics from the Hebrew University who wished to concentrate on the wide spectrum of antisemitism from the Emancipation through the end of World War II, and survivor historians mainly from Poland who strongly recommended limiting the research scope to the Holocaust in order to commemorate its victims and heroes. The Hebrew University, surprisingly, had no program for Holocaust research. Due to internal tensions, by 1955 research at Yad Vashem had stagnated. The Holocaust Research Institute was established in 1957 as a combined project of Yad Vashem and the Hebrew University. In practice, Yad Vashem provided financial support and the university controlled all activities. The Institute limped along for ten years to the dissatisfaction of Yad Vashem. It was eventually incorporated into the Institute for Contemporary Jewry of the Hebrew University. In retrospect the Research Institute succeeded in bringing the Hebrew University and other academic institutions into Holocaust study and encouraging Holocaust scholarship by stressing the need for academic activity and the teaching of the subject.