Though I have been through the children's section of the U. S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, a masterfully created space that stands on it's own, I have never visited the main part of the museum.
This picture was taken October 2013, during the government shut-down, when the museum was closed. All other photographs are recent.
I spent an hour there this week and found it to be both sobering and hauntingly beautiful at the same time. I took only a few photographs because I was so absorbed in the displays, and much of the museum is darkly lit.
The first thing that struck me was the stark architecture of the building: brick, steel, and glass.
It's always sobering to see things like this, but I often feel that singling out the Holocaust tends to make people think that it was a unique incident in human history when it was just one of many. It might be interesting for an American Holocaust museum to examine a few of the parallels with the treatment of Native Americans in earlier times. And of course in the 21st century, massacres of ethnic groups continue in general indifference, not because we have become hardened to it but because as long as we are not personally threatened, we don't really care.
It's always sobering to see things like this, but I often feel that singling out the Holocaust tends to make people think that it was a unique incident in human history when it was just one of many. It might be interesting for an American Holocaust museum to examine a few of the parallels with the treatment of Native Americans in earlier times.
There is an enormous American Indian museum down the street which features not only the history and cultures of indigenous people, but also their mistreatment. And, while there are also many sections of museums dedicated to slavery and the mistreatment of Africans Americans, there is a large museum being built on the National Mall, both mentioned in an earlier report. There's always much to remember about our past mistakes and it's important we not forget the injustices done to groups of people since the beginning of time. And, when we do see it happening again during our own lifetimes it's just as important to speak up.
In Paris, there is a museum called the "Museum of Art and History of Judaism" and a museum called the "Shoah Memorial" so that one subject does not 'pollute' the other. Of course the fact that the Shoah Memorial only opened in 2005 is scandalous in itself (1998 for the history museum). Then again, the one in Washington opened in 1993, which also would seem to indicate that the subject was not considered a priority.
My previous comment was based on the fact that I know that there is a Native American museum in Washington, but there is no 'Native American Extermination' museum when probably the subject of Native American art and culture would best be celebrated unmixed with blood.
I hardly think that dedicating a museum to a particular part of history would create the idea that "it was a unique incident in human history".
The museum and the fact that the Holocaust took place during modern times is a reminder and a caution that "massacres of ethnic groups continue in general indifference, not because we have become hardened to it but because as long as we are not personally threatened, we don't really care."
The enormity of the monstrousness that was the Holocaust and, again, the fact that it happened so recently means that there is every reason to "single it out".
When I was a very young woman I watched a couple hours of news footage of holocaust prisoners, some barely alive, many dead, on film. Something I didn't want to do, but felt it my responsibility to know and to see. Those images are still with me, so, no, I didn't watch footage while on this trip.
As I mentioned earlier, the children's section of the museum is very well done in my opinion. I visited that section several years ago on a trip with my youngest child's class. I remember the surroundings started out bright, airy, and colorful, but by the end of the tour the darkened walls have narrowed significantly and there's a horrible feeling of loss in the air. It's been about 15 years, but my child has not been able to bring herself to return even though she has every opportunity. She, too, remembers every moment of that visit.
The utter inhumanity shown is beyond comprehension. I remember how I found it almost impossible to watch the newsreels. I believe that when one of the camps was captured the local American commander had every German there paraded and shot. I cannot say I blame him.
Man is not lost, only temporarily uncertain of his position
The utter inhumanity shown is beyond comprehension.
I went there on a field trip when it opened but it wasn't until I returned as an adult 20 years later that I was able to appreciate what a fantastic job the designers did with it.
People can debate all they want about what should've been built first or where but I'm glad this place exists as a testament to what intolerance bears and I hope that proper attention is given where it still exists today, even in my own neighborhood where a transgender was recently beaten to death.