the year of LIVING UNOFFICIALLY

365 days of celebration

27
January

International Holocaust Remembrance Day

Posted by Brittany

Unfortunately, apart from these and a few more details, many of which my father has gleaned from recovered photographs he’s just now seeing for the first time, there’s a lot we don’t know about this part of our family’s history.  Unable to comprehend losing my parents or waging combat, as my grandparents did when they were younger than I am now, I know it was completely their prerogative to keep their painful history in the past.  Still, since today is a day of remembrance, lest we never forget, Chris and I thought it was important to visit the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC.  We cut our workday short and rode the metro up to the museum, located just a short distance from the Washington Monument, and spent three hours in the permanent exhibit.  Even knowing that this was a part of modern history, even having watched movies and documentaries detailing Hitler’s rise to power and the Holocaust, the exhibit is still shocking –the countless shoes of the slaughtered victims, the children’s toys whose owners never exited the death camps, the unending propaganda of hatred.  I literally stopped in my tracks at one portrait of an elderly man looking straight into the camera of his captor as he was photographed entering Auschwitz.  He didn’t look scared, or angry — he just had the emotionless reserved look of someone who knew with complete certainty that they were looking into the face of evil.  I am unable to comprehend how these captors were capable of such inhumanity, and equally incensed by the complacency of so many “good middling people” that stood by while mass murder was committed.

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is truly a work of art dedicated to the memory and plights of persecuted people everywhere.  The haunting architecture houses unyielding uncensored displays that aren’t watered down to make the educational experience more palatable; they’re grotesque and upsetting and anger-inducing — just the way they should be.  It’s important that we all remember the past, that we memorialize the victims of such hateful crimes, and that we do everything we can to make sure this will never happen again.

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