Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Holocaust Museum

This was the museum I wasn't sure I could visit.  Was I ready for that much emotional attack?  But so many people urged me to go...So....

 Like the wall at the Vietnam Memorial this museum is most moving in its starkness and simplicity. The museum is so filled with visitors that it took several hours for me to see even 1/2 of it and then I was never able to get a ticket to see the exhibit most of the visitors want to see--"The Final Solution."

For any of you wanting to visit here--get here during the week, off-season and very early in the morning.

As I entered the center atrium it was apparent the architecture was intended to remind us of the camps and the ovens.  The walls are the same red brick and the only lighting is natural. Large heavy black metal doors lead to the exhibit rooms. there are no pictures on the walls, no carpets, no soft music--just the echo of shoes on the concrete floor.

Once again cameras were forbidden except in this atrium area and, without flash, in the 'Hall of Remembrance.'  For once I did not object.  Flash bulbs and people posing in front of the exhibits would have been offensive at the very least.

This exhibit was most informative and The Smithsonian is planning to take it on the road sometime in the near future.  If it comes anywhere near you I urge you to see it.  It describes the systematic path taken by a very small minority of fanatics to gain control of the German  government and the minds of the voters. And the plan worked even better than they expected.

It is the perfect recipe for power control and genocide:  All that is needed is 1.)  to continuously connect one's leader to patriotism and the 'superior race'  2.) to slowly gain complete control of the media then use it incessantly to promote the righteousness of the party's views while blocking or negating any outside 'evil' opinions 3.)  to constantly scapegoat 'the other' (Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, Jehovah Witnesses, mentally retarded, disabled, racially different immigrants) until 'the other' is no longer thought of as 'human' and therefore it is alright to imprison and even kill them--by the millions 4.) and To exercise patience because victory will come in small steps but it will come.

The posters and their progression of hostility to the Jews is fascinating to see as each year the words and pictures became more blatantly hostile.

It took over 10 years but the recipe worked and it took a World War II to stop them.   It seems we
 are all easily swayed if we are not alert. We may not like "The New York Times" or Fox News, or MSNBC or Rush Limbaugh but we need them all--and we must be vigilant of what they say.  And if one or the other is spreading false or misleading news then we need to call them on it--but we must have all voices.  
I believe an open and free Internet may be the best prevention against a future Hitler--and we must cry 'foul' every time some politician or corporation tries to control it or put restraints on it.  There are a lot of sign posts we need to pay attention to...The demise of "The New Orleans Times Picayune' as a daily paper is a indication of the fragility of our press today. Why is it that ratings are what counts on TV, not quality or content? We can see that money is buying politicians everywhere.  And radio is the pits!  Believe me 'cause I have sampled every station in every town I have visited.  Even the canned music is the same drivel--same songs, same rotation, nothing new or innovative.

The 'Hall of Remembrance' is on the top floor and is a meditative space and memorial to the victims of the Holocaust.   

It is inscribed with the names of some of the more infamous concentration sites....

And candles line the walls with the request to light a candle in remembrance.

And as I left there was a sign that requested that we "Share what we have learned".  So I am sharing. I know we are confronted all the time by 'fanatics' of every ilk.  But they will gain power only because of the indifference of the public.  


  1. When we were there years ago I took an elevator between floors. It was designed as the inside of a box car. Once the doors closed and the car started moving it was easy to panic as to whether or not I would ever get out. This was a highly emotional memorial for me even though I have no personal connection with the events of that time. I hate to imagine what it would be like if I did.

  2. I know what you mean about radio now. I gave up on it years ago and switched to podcasts. Every subject under the sun. No FCC or sponsors telling them what they can or can't say. And I get to control when I listen to them. Seriously.. you can't go back once you switch.