VISITING YAD VASHEM MIchael Sharp
I took these photographs on a recent visit to the Yad Vashem holocaust memorial institution in Jerusalem, which commemorates those who perished in the Holocaust (including trying to record each one of the names of the six million), the Righteous Among the Gentiles who put their lives and the lives of their families at risk by trying to protect victims of the Holocaust, and which leads internationally in holocaust education and educator training.
Combining such a sombre visit with a family holiday is a bit of an emotional roller coaster - but it is a must see destination in Jerusalem.
My previous visit was three years ago, which was very emotional for me; however since then my level of detailed knowledge of the Shoah has grown and the knowledge of my own family history has become more detailed.
The first photograph provides for me an excellent summary of the horror of fighting for life in the cattle cars en route to the camps, while the second photograph of a genuine cattle car, suggests the journey into nowhere, an empty future, a unknown destination.
The photographs of the Valley of the Communities overwhelms you with the vast number of names of perished communities, which in a way only have meaning when you find a name of personal significance - it brings your heart to your mouth - if our great grand parents hadn't emigrated to the UK what would our fate have been.
The photos of the memorial at the Partisan's Panorama are powerful in that each leaf of the tree is a human being - interconnected and helping and supporting each other.
I am not an artistic or creative person, but the pain and loss in the photos of the two statues hit me quite profoundly.
But perhaps the greatest emotional impact on this visit was the Children's Memorial - rather than being upset by all the children's photographs within what is overall an emotional building - it is seeing a photograph of one little girl that looks just like childhood photos of my wife that really took my breath away. I am currently trying to find out from Yad Vashem if they know the identity of the girl - it could be a relation of my wife's.