It is the purpose of the Menachem Begin Heritage Center Archives in Honor of Yehiel and Esther Kadishai to collect, preserve and protect materials and records related to Menachem Begin and his activities. It began its activity in April 2000 and the collections continue to be built. There are two main sections to the Archives: collections of primary source material character that document the public, political and party activities of Menachem Begin in the various periods of his life and other related topics, and the administrative section, which includes the material that documents the ongoing activity of the Center itself.
The Archives contain over 4300 documents and records, over 5000 files, over 10,000 photographs and over 530 films as well as audio recordings of speeches, interviews and lectures. A main source for the visuals has been the Israel Broadcasting Authority and other television networks throughout the world. Almost all of the material has undergone digitalization. A newspaper collection exists as well as posters and handbills from various periods. There are also over 1000 museum elements, mostly personal effects of Menachem and Aliza Begin as well as gifts, medals, paintings and other awards.
The Historical Archive
The historical archive is comprised of a number of divisions that reflect the main periods in the life of Menachem Begin:
The Personal Division, PP, 1913 -1942: his childhood and his youth in Brisk, his studies in Warsaw, his activity in Betar, his imprisonment by the NKVD and his service in the army of General Anders.
The Irgun Division IR, 1943-1948: activity of the Irgun under Menachem Begin's command: posters, speeches of Begin as commander of the Irgun, the Altalena episode.
The Opposition Division, OP, 1948-1977: Menachem Begin's activity as a member of Knesset in the Opposition between 1949-1967 and 1970-1977; as a member of the government in the Gahal framework in Israel and abroad.
The Prime Minister Division, PM, 1977-1983: Menachem Begin's activity as Israel's 6th prime minister, from 1977 until his resignation in 1983.
The Post-Premiership Division, RT, 1983-1992: The period following his resignation, his withdrawal from public life and his seclusion in his home until his death in 1992.
The Commemoration Division, COM: Perpetuation of the name and memory of Menachem Begin, and also his wife Aliza.
The Personal Collection, P20: transferred from the Jabotinsky Institute
In addition to the period divisions the archive possesses a broad variety of audio, video, press and photographic collections spanning all the divisions, and also a number of personal archives, including those of Yitzhak Shamir, Yechiel Kadishai, Eliahu Ben-Elissar, Yedidyah Blumenthal, Matityahu Shmuelevitz and others. Among other archival material can be found the Harry Hurwitz and Revisionist Movement in South Africa and the activity of the Bergson Group, headed by Hillel Kook.
The Archives possesses over 115 extensive oral testimonies conducted with individuals who worked with or parallel to Menachem Begin. They are video-recorded, transcribed and catalogued. Among those interviewed are: Dan Meridor, Yechiel Kadishai, Efarim Katzir, Yitzhak Chofi, Dan Patir, Nahum Admoni, Aryeh Naor and Esther Raziel-Naor.
The Administrative Archive
The administrative archive keeps material that documents the activity of the Menachem Begin Heritage Center, such as study days, conferences, ceremonies and events that mark the commemorate the life of Menachem Begin and the history of the country. All these are scanned, transcribed and sometimes photographed or filmed and are preserved in the archive. In addition, the administrative archive preserves material that is created in the various departments of the Center in the framework of ongoing activity.
Procedures for Studying Archival Material
In order to research archival material to a significant extent, one must visit the archive personally. Advance coordination is necessary and can be arranged with the archivist by phone or e-mail. A research request for reproducing a document or picture will be dealt with through contact with the archives staff.