Since moving to Virginia, I’ve wanted to go to the Holocaust Museum. Every time I start, I look for tickets or details on how to go, and then find out it is a bad time. Or, frankly, I am not in the mood to be depressed by the experience. Finally – I had time.
Reading the stories, hearing the museum staff speak as they walked through talking to patrons, and seeing the images was, as I expected, pretty powerful. I’ve known through various other venues (history channel, classes, and stories), but being there is as though I was sitting with survivors; listening to their stories.
When you walk in, you get the story of a person who was imprisoned during World War 2 – at the end it tells the fate of the person you chose. I got one for me, one for Elizabeth – one survived – one did not. I am not sure which is better.
I am very glad to hear those who did survive speak. I am glad that I can learn from them and that they can keep the memories alive – as this cannot be repeated. Their stories need to be told to those who can stop Darfur from continuing. Their voices need to be heard by those who use derogatory terms as part of normal conversation.
A friend of my mother’s was born in a concentration camp. I heard very brief stories from her mother. One that really struck me, and still amazes me to this day, is a story she told about living in the camp. The people who were in the camp with her were family. They helped birth her daughter, they laughed, loved and cried together. I was struck because the images I see in my mind when thinking about the holocaust is a lot of things, but family bonding isn’t one of them. However – it happened. And, if you think about it, it makes sense. These people are living the same nightmare and are the best shoulders to lean on and cry on. While I was at the museum, I looked for stories like this and they were there (though not detailed). It is something that everyone should do, if only to remember how it started – to realize that the same behaviors continue and to recognize hate and abolish it.