Monday, January 3, 2011

#7: Go to the Holocaust Museum

Do most people have favorite eras in history?  Mine has always been World War II and the Holocaust.  Hitler's ascent to power, the unspeakable evil that occurred during his reign, and how he was finally stopped- I am awed by it all because I cannot understand how it happened, how it was allowed to happen.

When I visited my brother in October, he was not initially intrigued by the notion of visiting the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.  He thought it would be too heavy.  However, I convinced him that we needed to go and so we did.

Let me tell you that it was 100% worth it.

We spent more than 4 hours taking it all in and probably could have spent longer.  I'm sure I could go through again and discover details I missed the first time.  The photographs, the videos, the artifacts, even the railcar that took people to the death camps...I was blown away.  Yes, it's heavy, as it should be.  We must never forget that this happened.

I was also encouraged by the stories of survivors and those who hid Jews or did what they could to get them out of Nazi-occupied countries.  Their courage and their determination despite the circumstances impacted me.

I was struck by two things while I wound my way through the museum.

1. There were so many times that Hitler could have been stopped.  No one thought he would get anywhere and then once he was in power, no one thought he would follow through on his "crazy rants."  But he did.  And even then, powerful nations, including the US, sat by and did nothing.  World War II could have been avoided or greatly shortened if Hitler would have been kept in check.

2. Genocide still exists today.  What are we ignoring?  What will future generations judge us for our inaction the way I judge the WWII generation?

I've been particularly interested in stopping genocide in Sudan for the last 5 years or so.  One easy way of supporting this cause is buying a t-shirt- or getting a group of friends to buy t-shirts.  A friend learned of Students Against Genocide shortly after they started selling shirts.  It's unfortunate that the message still needs to be broadcast.

Another great organization is Save Darfur.  They have easy steps you can take to become involved.

I hope that someday soon we will be able to say that this genocide is over.  I hope that people will learn that hate is not the answer, that our differences do not need to divide us. 

I hope that the lesson of the Holocaust Museum- the world must know and the world must remember- would abide in us all so that we may avoid repeating the same mistakes.

1 comment:

  1. i don't know if I have a favorite era in history, but I have always had a fascination with politics and World War II is rife with politics. it is the defining moment of good versus evil. exceptional leadership pitted against exceptional leadership. but I'm sorry that it had to take place.

    the holocaust was horrible and I agree with your assessment of the importance of the Museum. I have had the fortune of studying about the Holocaust during my bachelor's degree in human rights. And I've been fortunate to have visited the Holocaust Museum after my studies. It is very weird to use fortune in this paragraph in the light of the horror, but I believe it is something we MUST never forget. and something we NEED to work to prevent.

    thank you for sharing your experience and visit. i'm so glad you've convinced your brother to go.

    two of my favorite historical figures stood against Hitler and rightly deserve mention. they are Churchill and Bonhoeffer.


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