Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Holocaust Memorial Center

Our starting point is not the individual:

We do not subscribe to the view that one should feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, or clothe the naked … Our objectives are different: We must have a healthy people in order to prevail in the world.

Joseph Goebbels, 1938

That same day we visited IKEA, (my son, my sister and her daughter and I) visited the Holocaust Museum.

It was a moving experience. No admission is charged. It is a very quiet place, and rightfully so.

NO cameras are allowed, all cell phones were to be turned off. That fits with the solemn and respectful occasion that visiting this museum is.

The building was made to look industrial and that is to make one recall the buildings (specially built and put up fast by the Jews!) in which they gassed the millions.

The REASON FOR GAS, we learned, is that shooting and killing massive amounts of humans proved to be a dirty, messy, "demeaning" and stressful job for those in the SS that were required to do it.

So, a faster, cleaner method of killing the unwanted people had to be devised. It's appalling how fast this method came to be, and how quickly those buildings were put up!

(I cannot imagine the meetings that took place discussing the best method to do away with this "messy" mass killing.)

There are railroad tracks out front that remind us of the trainloads of Jews that were driven to their miserable existence (and most likely their deaths from hard labor and slavery) packed in those boxcars like sardines, treated worse than animals. Inside the museum was a replica of a train car they would have traveled in. We saw photos of long, terrible marches that took place in the dead of winter where many of those didn't make it to their horrible destination, they died on the way.

It's not an pleasant trip, but very educational, and sobering. I'm not sure if our schools even teach about the holocaust in any great depth any more, but they should, absolutely.

And as one of the sweet elderly ladies we visited with in the museum gift shop said to our children,

(Those words chilled me to the bone.)

You want to hope it doesn't, but it shows the nature of man to want to BLAME someone or some race for their "troubles", and it proves what can happen when too much power is invested in one man and his radical, wrong ideas. It shows how far off track we can get when we follow along in a MOVEMENT and stray from our long-held beliefs and fail to keep our eye on the compass of TRUTH.

You can do a self-guided tour, or you can wait until a docent can guide you through, one time of the day. Then, toward the end of each day a holocaust survivor comes in to talk to groups that have finished their tour.

Now, sadly, we did not get there at the proper time for the docent, nor that day did a survivor show up. BUT...I would highly recommend using both the docent and making sure a survivor would be on hand to answer questions.

It was a moving experience, especially for our kids. I don't think they ever realized HOW MANY people went to die in such huge numbers. Some of the photos were hard to look at, the cruelty too much to comprehend.

Most touching was the wall on our way out that listed each and every site (in MANY countries!) where the Jews were killed and how many in each camp and how many in each country. It was unreal. At this monument was an eternal flame.

The kids also could stand and listen to recorded firsthand stories of children (now quite elderly) that were separated from their parents and their whole families to be rescued by families in England.

There was a wall of responsibility from which we learned how news organizations and respected institutions were held up to scrutiny for their refusal to acknowledge that this was happening and tell the story of the torture, experiments and mass slaughter taking place all over Europe. There was a place to read about the deliberate blind eye turned to the reality of this happening by those around the world, including the press, world and religious leaders, and yes, even the United States turned their backs on this for a long, long time.

A very sobering experience this was, but one that is especially meaningful. Our kids learned about the harvesting of fillings from the teeth, the scientific experiments performed live on these victims, their dissections after their deaths, and the way the people were starved and worked to death, and then stacked like cord wood when they were starved, sick or too weak to live any longer. It's raw, emotional and it was REAL.

It is an experience that shows what can happen when APATHY takes over a country. It is a place that reminds us that INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS are always the first to go in a direction that takes us where we DO NOT WANT TO BE AND SHOULD NOT GO.

First they were labeled, then limited to the ghetto, they had curfew, told what jobs they could and could not do, who they could and could not interact with. From there it moved on to the unthinkable, and it was ALL VERY FAST in about the space of fifteen years or less from inception to liberation.

If you have a Holocaust Museum near you, visit it, take your children, I think you will be glad you did. Our kids experience while there was very emotional for them, but at almost 13 and almost 14, I think they were ready for the reality of what happened.

“ We heard a loud voice repeating the same words in English and in German: "Hello, hello. You are free. We are British soldiers and have come to liberate you." These words still resound in my ears. ”

—Hadassah Rosensaft, inmate of Bergen-Belsen


Jennifer said...

Visiting a Hollocaust memorial is a very sobering and eye-opening experience. They do still teach it in school. At least the two years I taught middle school English it was taught when we did the Diary of Anne Frank unit. Research the movie Paper Clips or the Paper Clip project and you can see just what has been taught in the area in which I live. A local middle school here has put together a project that will make you proud of our schools.

Thank you for sharing your experience.


Unknown said...

We were able to visit Dachau while in Germany many years ago. It was indeed a quiet solemn experience.

Farmgirl Cyn said...

The sweet little lady in the gift shop was right. It WILL happen again. And I believe it will happen right here in this country. Very sobering, indeed.

Deanna said...

November blessings to you!
This is a very good post.
Glad you have shared.
To think that our own country has so many traits like the Hitler take over is sobering.
We seem to be traveling toward a socialistic society and many don't even know their freedoms that will be taken away.
d from homehaven

Aspiemom said...

I've always wanted to visit a Holocaust museum and thought it would be a very emotional experience. Thanks for sharing this.

Wendy said...

My husband also visited Dachau when he was in Germany. He said it was the best part of his trip and the worst part of his trip.

I really wanted to visit when we were in DC over Memorial Day but one of the people we were with just did not want to go :-(

Donna said...

This post gave me chills. It is a lesson that unbridled government power can abuse and KILL their own people. I pray that the world never sees such evil ever again.

Mary your sis said...

Going to the museum that day taught me the importance of teaching our children eternal vigilance in regards to the importance of safe-gaurding our Constitution. If we don't do this it CAN happen here. As I learned about the Holocaust in school, I thought it could NEVER happen in the U.S. and wondered how any society could allow it. It was hard then to imagine that the despots like Hitler take control away from citizens a little at a time, and for their own "protection". Like frogs in a kettle of water, they don't realize the danger until the water is at a full boil. It is scary that people here actually cheer when someone like Rush Limbaugh is prevented from buying an NFL team just because he says some things they don't agree with. Today the Obama administration has declared war on FOX News, Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, tommorow will it be on the liberals who cheered when someone else's rights to free speech were taken away? People don't realize the rights afforded us in the Constitution, namely free speech and the right to bear arms were solely put in place to keep tyranny at bay. WE MUST REMEMBER and we must defend these rights or we'll all be in re-education camps together some day!

Kathie Truitt said...

I made both my children go to the one here in DC when they turned 12
I thought that was an appropriate age for them to remember what they had seen and be moved by it. Not only did they do terribly things to these people physically, but they messed with their emotions and their head. I'll never forget when a whole ship load of Jewish people were boarded on to a ship. They thought they were being freed. Roosevelt would not let them into the country. I believe they might have even tried Cuba and were turned away. I am ashamed of that. I am also ashamed that America waited too long to get on board and help these people. Yes, we waited too long.

~from my front porch in the mountains~ said...

So much to be remembered so we do not forget.

KathyB. said...

I suppose it is no surprise to you that many countries no longer teach about the holocaust, in fact deny it ever happened,especially the those who have increasingly large populations of Muslims....also, we learned a few years ago when we frequently hosted Japanese exchange students, they are not taught about Pearl Harbor, much WWII history and there are many in America who have come to believe the Japanese attacks on us were our fault.

It is good to have these reminders..but until God intervenes we are destined to repeat these atrocities...God have mercy on us please!

Unknown said...

MY Papa is a survivor who never spoke to us about. In fact, I didn't know until I was older. He said very little about it until recently when interviewed by a Jewish Organization for Holocaust survivors. It wasn't pleasant. In fact, it was a lot like the Italian Movie "It's a Beautiful Life". A lot of what he described was like the movie. My Papa was a special man throughout his life. Who he was as a man was partly because of that terrible event. He was a prisoner for two years. Please go visit my post (several posts down) about him. It's the one with photos of his hand painted frescoes in the cathedrals of Southern Italy. His faith is what carried him through. As you explore the marvelous frescoes, you can tell his love for God above who got him through that experience and made him who he is today. Thank you for the post.

Unknown said...

I will never forget how my niece who was in high school at the time, in the 80's had the nerve to say to me, when I asked her about the holocaust" that never really happened, they just couldn't have killed that many people". I was aghast, I asked if she learned that bit of "wisdom" in school. She replied "No, they don't teach about that in school anymore because it didn't happen". I told her as best as I could as I was so angry I could see red, that being ignorant was not a trait becoming to I believe if we have a generation of peole that believe it didn't happen, it will happen again. I pray to God I am wrong.