ANZAC Museum cornerstone set in Beersheba

April 19, 2016 by Ahuva Bar-Lev
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The cornerstone for the ANZAC Museum in Beersheba has been set at a ceremony attended by JNF officials from Australia and the Australian ambassador to Israel.


The ANZAC Museum will commemorate the history of ANZAC through the personal stories of the combatants.
The conquest of Beersheba by the Mounted Division of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) and the British Armed Forces was one of the major victories in the conquest of the land of Israel from the Ottoman Army. The ANZAC Museum, which is now being built in the Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery in Beersheba with a contribution from JNF Australia, will commemorate the history of ANZAC through the personal stories of the combatants.
The cornerstone ceremony for the museum was attended by the Mayor of Beersheba, the Ambassador to Israel from Australia and senior executives from KKL-JNF and JNF Australia. The inauguration of the museum is expected to take place on October 31, 2017, the exact date of the 100th anniversary of the ANZAC Mounted Division’s historic charge and conquest of the city.
“The history of the ANZAC Mounted Division is the history of us all,” said Beersheba Mayor Ruvik Danilovich. “Buried in this cemetery are heroes who saved the entire world. We are committed to our past and are realizing the vision with support from our wonderful partners.”
More than any other place, Beersheba symbolizes the determination of ANZAC and the bravery of its cavalry. After sustaining great losses in their attempt to conquer Gaza, British General Edmund Allenby decided to conduct a surprise attack on Beersheba. The ANZAC Mounted Division was sent to outflank the enemy and attack the city from the East. The ANZAC cavalry stunned the Turks positioned in their trenches, when they charged above them and attacked them from the rear. It was the last charge of a mounted brigade in the history of modern warfare.
JNF Australia President Peter Smaller said that the conquest of Beersheba was the turning point that led to the end of World War I. “We are excited to be here today to lay the cornerstone of the museum,” he said.
In his greetings, HE Dave Sharma, the Ambassador to Israel from Australia, stressed the strong connection between the two countries: “The museum being built will help teach the younger generation about the Australians and the Israelis, about the connection between our two nations for more than a hundred years. Australia has stood by Israel in its struggle for the right to exist as the State of the Jewish people.
The exhibition at the ANZAC Museum is to include pictures, video clips and historical documents, as well as the soldiers’ personal effects and letters. Visitors at the exhibition will be ascending in a very slow elevator, unawares, and the doors will open onto an observation deck where they can view the cemetery in silence.
There are 174 Australian combatants buried in the Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery in Beersheba, 31 New Zealanders and over a thousand British soldiers. All of them fell in the line of duty in the vicinity of Beersheba during World War I. Among them is also one Jew, whose grave is marked with a Star of David.
As he stood gazing at the ANZAC graves, KKL-JNF Vice Chairman Mike Nitzan said: “These heroes teach us about commitment and courage, about the bonds between nations and civilizations of East and West, which is precisely what KKL-JNF has been a part of for more than 115 years.”
The event was emceed by KKL-JNF Chief of Protocol Andy Michelson, who is of Australian origin, himself. “All of us are deeply grateful to those soldiers, who fought far from their homes in order to uphold our way of life,” said Michelson.
The path of the ANZAC Mounted Division from the Gaza border to Beersheba, which is about 100 kilometers long, has been developed by KKL-JNF to commemorate the route they traveled. Information signs have been installed at selected points along the way. With pictures and explanations, these sites illustrate the experience of the ANZAC fighters and the epic battles they fought.
“The ANZAC Museum in Beersheba will honor the ANZAC fighters and their great sacrifice,” said JNF Australia CEO  Dan Springer. “Future generations will learn here about the role they played in enabling the establishment of the Jewish State. This site will also affirm the close ties between Australia and Israel.”
After the speeches, it was time to lay the cornerstone. The representatives signed the convention, buried it and covered it with cement. Peter Smaller noted the importance of completing the project by the 100th anniversary of the conquest of Beersheba a year and a half hence, at which time distinguished delegations from Australia and New Zealand are expected to arrive at the site as well as many visitors. “Laying the cornerstone symbolizes the beginning of this building project,” he said, “and we are certain that Israeli determination and resourcefulness will enable us to accomplish the task.”


2 Responses to “ANZAC Museum cornerstone set in Beersheba”
  1. Will Jansen says:

    Very good news and we are looking forward to bringing a group in October next year to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the “Charge of the Light Horse Brigade”

  2. Dorothy Finlay says:

    I was sorryn that there was no mention of this event in the New Zealand Press.

    Great initiative to build the war museum in Beer Sheva.

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