Permanent Exhibitions

Visitors to the Sydney Jewish Museum are fascinated as much by the story itself, as by the way it is told, with its emphasis on excellence of design and technology.

Within eight exhibition areas, visitors confront life-size sculptures and dioramas, examine original documents and newspapers, and interact with multimedia displays:

The permanent exhibitions include:

  • Culture and Continuity: Journey through Judaism
  • Serving Australia: The Jewish Involvement in Australian Military History
  • Hitler’s Rise to Power
  • The Ghettos
  • Resistance
  • Transportation to the Camps
  • The Camps
  • Liberation and After
  • Reflection and Remembrance
  • Righteous Among the Nations
  • The Long Journey to Freedom
  • Stories of Survival

Culture and Continuity: Journey through Judaism

Explores Jewish history from Biblical origin in the Ancient Near East to the thriving Jewish community in Australia.

Serving Australia: The Jewish Involvement in Australian Military History

Portrays the stories of Jewish servicemen and women in the Australian defence forces from its inception to the present. Reflecting the dedication, valour and patriotism of the greater Australian community, features the social-military history of Jewish men and women in time of war.

Hitler's Rise to Power

Introduces the Holocaust, documenting Hitler’s rise to power and the impact on the Jews in Germany following the introduction of the Nuremberg Laws. It culminates in the story of Kristallnacht – the infamous ‘Night of the Broken Glass’ – and subsequent efforts by Jews to leave Germany.

The Ghettos

Enter this area alongside a near life-size sculptural relief entitled Walking into the Ghetto. The large-scale images exhibited in a dimly lit space reinforce the enclosed nature of life in the ghettos.

Resistance

The old image still prevalent today that Jews went ‘like lambs to the slaughter’ falls into the realm of historical legend, this space presents some of the countless acts of defiance and resistance that took place to resist the Nazi genocide.

Transportation to the Camps

Commences with the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, when it became apparent that mass shootings were inefficient for the murder of millions of people. The decision to implement the Final Solution – utilising gas chambers in extermination centres, meant that Jews from all over Europe had to be transported by train to Poland. In this exhibition are objects exhumed from the Serniki mass grave, excavated in 1990 by a joint Australian-Soviet team and presented as evidence of atrocities at the War Crimes Trial in South Australia.

The Camps

This area documents the history and nature of concentration camps in Europe. Everyday objects used by inmates, including clothing, identification tags and eating implements. The exhibition includes a large map showing major concentration camps, the death camps and the movements of the Einsatzgruppen or mobile killing squads.

Liberation and After

Documents the aftermath of the war, the liberation of the camps and the Nuremberg Trials. It tells the story of the establishment of the State of Israel and the arrival of many Holocaust Survivors in Australia.

Reflection and Remembrance

Visitors are able to reflect upon their tour in this quiet area. In this space are two monumental sculptures of Janusz Korczak, the physician and educator who ran an orphanage in the Warsaw Ghetto and shared the fate of his orphans in the gas chambers of Treblinka. The other of Swedish diplomat, Raoul Wallenberg, who ran the gauntlet of the Nazi war machine in Budapest, saving thousands of Jews.

Righteous Among the Nations

In 1953 the Israeli Parliament passed a law to establish a national institution for Holocaust commemoration – Yad Vashem. This ‘Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority’ was charged with the task not only of commemorating the Jewish catastrophe and resistance, but also of tracing the rescuers of Jews and honouring them as ‘Righteous among the Nations’.

The Long Journey to Freedom

The Holocaust – the murder of six million Jews during World War II – extinguished the old Jewish World in Europe. The war left many countries in ruins, with millions displaced and dispossessed. Liberated by Allied soldiers, Survivors of the Holocaust embarked on a long and often painful journey to rebuild their shattered lives. More than 27,000 found sanctuary in Australia – at the ‘edge of the Diaspora’. Haunted by bitter memories of suffering and loss, almost all succeeded in integrating into Australian society and its Jewish community. This was acknowledged with gratitude and a deep sense of loyalty towards their new homeland. This exhibition brings memories and memorabilia together to tell the story of The Long Journey to Freedom.

Stories of Survival

Stories of Survival is a collection of Holocaust Testimonies taken from thirty-five Sydney Jewish Museum Volunteer Survivors. The documentary is a four-hour analysis and explanation of nine phases and elements of the Holocaust. The nine sections cover: Anti-Semitism – Loss of Rights, Ghettos, Hiding: Betrayal and Rescue, Resistance, Camps, Death Marches, Liberation, Surviving and Migration.