It’s been more than a year and I have a boatload of experiences still to share including a visit the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. The visit came about because I was in the nation’s capital attending the inauguration of President Trump then attended the Women’s March the following day.
The U.S. Holocaust Museum is a place I have wanted to visit for a long time. The Diary of Anne Frank has stuck in my mind since I read it in elementary school (or was it junior high?) but it just has not worked out during previous trips to D.C.
There were sooooo many people attending the Women’s March and it was challenging finding a place to eat and visit the bathroom. As fate would have it, while wandering around looking for a place to rest, I ended up at the steps of the U.S. Holocaust Museum. A sign to walk through those doors and visit, right?
Like many museums in Washington, D.C., admission is free and there was a lengthy line of Women’s March attendees waiting to get it. Just my luck, most only wanted to use the restroom and there was another entryway for those who wanted to tour the museum which was much shorter. Based on the red hats and other apparel, most other people visiting had attended the previous day’s inauguration
Part of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum experience is picking up an identification card which tells a brief story of a person who lived during the Holocaust. It’s a small booklet that prompts the user to turn the page as they proceed through the museum which begins on the fourth floor and works its way down. The person on the card I selected survived.
As you can imagine, the museum includes the stories of many people who did not survive the Holocaust and more than a year later, two exhibits still sends chills up my spine when I think about them.
One is a display of shoes of those who perished during the Holocaust.
The other was a display which stated, “the Nazis used propaganda, along with terror, to manipulate the German population…Nazi propaganda was simplistic, emotional, repetitive, and uncompromising.”
That last line, “Nazi propaganda was simplistic, emotional, repetitive, and uncompromising,” seems relevant to today. Can you make the connection with today and back then?
Does history repeat itself?
Do we learn from history?
Do we act on what history has taught us?
We should but I do not think we fully do.
The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum was a peaceful solitude from the vocal crowd demonstrating democracy on the streets of Washington, D.C. The museum shows what happens when people standby and do not stand up for the right thing to do. In addition to being a look into history, it shares a glimpse into what is happening around the world in recent history and today with crimes against humanity.
Visiting this holocaust museum is eye-opening, emotional, disturbing, and educational. It made me a bit uncomfortable and upset in knowing how awful people can be towards one another. But, it reminded me about my 2006 trip to Afghanistan when I met a teenage girl who was married off when she was younger than 5 years old. Although her in-laws mistreated her physically and mentally, even threatening to kill her, she said she still believed in the good in people.
The museum has a quiet area where visitors can light candles, reflect and pray. While most of the museum has subdued lighting which sets a somber mood, this area is white and pure.
As citizens of the United States and has civil humans, we must not let what happened during the Holocaust happen again. We cannot.
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
100 Raoul Wallenberg Place, SW
Washington, DC 20024-2126