Over the summer when my grandma visited us, she wanted to spend a day in Washington D.C. to go look at museums and one of the museums we went to was the Holocaust museum. Since an assignment was to visit a museum that relates to one of the topics we have discussed in this course, a few weeks ago I decided to revisit the museum. I was able to learn and engage with the exhibits throughout the museum more than I did the first time I went. The Holocaust Museum is dedicated to remember the period of human history between 1941 and 1945 when the Nazis engaged in unspeakable cruelty and injustices that were executed on the Jewish and other targeted races.
The museum is a graphic representation of the worst things possible that a civilized people can do such horrible things to a group of innocent people. The museum touches on a little bit of everything that occurred during the time period of the Holocaust. It touches on how the Nazis rose to power after World War II and how things like the Nuremberg laws affected the entire situation. We also learned about how the American society dealt with the depression, isolationism, and racsim, that shaped how the Nazi’s responsed to the Holocaust.
When in the museum, I spent a lot of time in the section involving the lives of children that were lost. In the section it touches on a young boy named Daniel who tells the story of the events that happened during the Holocaust as he represents all young children and what they had to go through. As I walked through the section, I entered realistic environments where we could touch, engage, and listen to Daniel’s life as it changed throughout the Holocaust. The exhibit was created by providing pictures from family photo albums, documentary sources, and diaries from during the time period. By using the written documents, photographs, and films, I was able to read and feel how the victims reactions and efforts were to try to expose and document the crimes and cruelty that the Nazi’s performed towards them. Towards the end of this devastating section, we were able to read more diary entries from those who were affected and following that there was an area where we could debrief and write down our thoughts about the museum or notes to go back to the victims in time.
While talking about the topic involving the children’s lives being lost, there was another area in the museum that was filled with shoes that belonged to the targeted people who had their belongings taken away when they got under Nazi supervision. In this section we saw tons of dull, brown shoes in all different sizes that included shoes for children which led me to feel a lot of disgust.
So the question is how does this relate to Western Civilization? No one would ever think that someone could be capable of such a crime against humanity as Hitler performed mass genocide towards the Jews. Germany was a brand new nation that was eager to stay as an active participant in Western Civilization. Hitler, with the help of his people, instigated one of the greatest horrors known to man during the time of the Holocaust. He brainwashed his nation into thinking that the threat from the past world war was the Jewish people and they should be exterminated so the Germans can realize the potential growth of their nation.
Germany performed acts that fell under dehumanization, torture, and mass murder of millions of Jews and every person in their community participated in a part of the process. The Western thought of progress connected with the enlightened idea proved that there was no ultimate reality or truth that helped the Germans in demonstrating how far they could fall down this horrible path.
The Germans believed that Jews were against all that Western Civilization stood for as it connected with utilizing the Jews as an escape for all of the other problems Germany faced. One question I always ask about the topic of the Holocaust is what would’ve happened if Hitler didn’t brainwash his country? Would the Germans be able to take down Hitler to help support the Jews? Would they think the Jews were the real problem if Hitler didn’t tell them they were so bad?
The visit to the Holocaust Museum is an experience that will stay with me for a lifetime and it is hard to believe all the suffering and death that the victims had to experience. While visiting the museum, I took two images; one was a black and white image of a young boy from Daniel’s section involving the children and I also took one of the pile of shoes that I mentioned earlier.
When looking at the picture of the young boy, all I felt was sadness and anger because it is unfair that innocent children didn’t have the chance to live their lives before it was taken so soon. Within the Daniel’s story exhibit, we get to see the children’s insight and understand their constant feeling of fear and the unknown things that could happen to them.
The shoes represent a very small portion of the millions who lost everything they had during the time period and I believe the Germans used the shoes to physically see how much destruction they performed in the process. Within the museum there was quite a bit of graphic content that may not be suitable for everyone but anyone who wants to learn more about the events of the Holocaust should visit this museum.