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Holocaust museum in D.C. not for the faint of heart

By Alex Sferrazza
On March 14, 2014


Have you ever seen a room filled with several thousand pairs of shoes, each of which was owned by a person who was murdered as part of a mass genocide?
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C. is one of the most important museums I have ever visited. You would be hard pressed to find a greater public display that showcases just how cruel and wicked humanity can become when intolerance and ignorance become a society's status quo.
Last weekend I paid my first visit to the museum and I can say without hesitation that the experience is one that will remain with me for as long as I walk this Earth.
The USHMM is dedicated to ensuring that history never forgets what occurred in the Holocaust (when over 6 million Jews were murdered by the Nazis in WWII), preventing the spread of Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism in the modern world and ensuring that future genocides do not occur.
The experience of walking through the museum is as carefully orchestrated and theatrically presented as can be. From the moment you enter the elevators that carry you to the main exhibit and you hear Americans describe their reactions upon first coming across a liberated camp, you're well aware that your about to see something truly horrifying.
The main exhibit is staged in historical order so that guests are slowly taken through the entire progression of the Holocaust, from the rise of Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany to the "final solution." The gradual staging ensures that museum visitors are "prepared" for the atrocious things viewable near the end of the tour, and that guests understand how intolerance can build in a society to the point where a genocide occurs.
In the main exhibit you'll see everything from Nazi party artifacts and drawings of schoolchildren, to ammunitions, stolen kitchen utensils and the inside of a train car which carried countless numbers to their deaths during the war.
There are but a few times in life when grown men are seen in public holding back tears - the birth of a child, a wedding, a funeral - you can add the USHMM to that list.
As strong as we may try to be, when one is presented with a photograph of a massive pile of human hair, clipped from the scalps of thousands of victim, holding it all together proves to be a futile endeavor. Uncensored footage of allied soldiers hurling deformed corpses into mass graves for rapid burial further cements these sentiments.
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is one of the most important museums in the world. The museum takes its mission to not only preserve the history of the worst human rights violation of the 20th century but to ensure that any such future events do not occur, very seriously. It doesn't matter where you come from or what your faith is. Any being who believes in the freedom of man should visit this museum. The Holocaust cannot be forgotten.
 


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