I visited the Holocaust Museum located in Washington DC on mid – June 2014. I was nervous due to the stories I had heard, and I went with a friend of mine. There were many visitors in attendance. People visited the museum to learn about the atrocities caused to the Jews by the Nazi administration, headed by Hitler. Upon arrival, I felt a sense of history that I wanted to learn. When inside the museum, I came face to face with the inhumane acts caused to human beings by fellow human beings.
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My initial feeling was that of regret, sympathy, and sadness for the thousands of innocent people who were killed, displaced, and forcefully evicted from their homes by a ruthless administration. My other reaction was that of anger towards the people who still do not accept that the holocaust happened, people who still live in denial.
Inside the museum, there were many exhibits and the deadly medicine exhibit struck me the most. The deadly museum exhibit is an exhibit that shows scientists from Germany justified the inferiority of the Jewish people, went ahead to assist Hitler in his anti-Semitism and his killing of innocent lives. What I learned is that anthropologists from Germany started profiling people in the 1920s by taking the heights of people for sinister motives such as to kill them.
From the exhibit, I learned that eugenics was in the forefront to form as a recognized policy in Germany. Therefore, it was not Hitler alone who started the vicious cycle of hating on people based on race and segregating them either as Jews, disabled, or gay. Eugenic was a global movement. Haugen (2007) states that “from 1933 to 1945, Nazi Germany carried out a campaign to “cleanse” German society of people viewed as biological threats to the nation’s “health.” Enlisting the help of physicians and medically trained geneticists, psychiatrists, and anthropologists, the Nazis developed racial health policies that started with the mass sterilization of “hereditarily diseased” persons and ended with the near annihilation of European Jewry” (p. 94).
The other piece I learned is that in the museum there was a video of the gas chambers. In the video, the public was tricked that they were going to get showered. The public removed all their clothes ready for the shower only to be splashed with a chemical gas that killed them all. There was a pile of clothes for many people killed by the chemical gas, a sight that shocked me. It was like a horror movie. Many people innocently walked into their chamber of death (Haugen, 2007).
The video explains and shows a billowing cloud of grey smoke. The video explains the pain people go through due to the loss of family members in violent acts. The video shows how human beings were chosen to either live or death. Many Jews who were strong were spared and forced to work as slaves. Those spared lived as prisoners in foreign lands and all their belongings were confiscated. What struck me most is the stack of human hair that was used to make mattresses (Longerich, 2010). Uniforms were given to those spared to differentiate them from the rest of the crowd. Prisoners lived under inhuman conditions as they were forced to sleep in small rooms.
The holocaust is the worst crime committed by people. It resulted to mass killing referred to as genocide. Genocide is violence committed to a group of people (Longerich, 2010). It is the highest show of hate towards a group of people. The Holocaust museum has successfully looked at the issue of discrimination and stereotyping based on race and gender so well such that it enables visitors to digest the actions of Germans easily. This made me understand the plan of the Holocaust, and I highly condemn the acts and behaviors of Germans during the Holocaust. Germans discriminated against the Jews by having them wear yellow stickers on their clothes. Jews were isolated in ghettos and remote schools, and they were finally persecuted.
In summary, I had a lifetime experience at the Holocaust Museum. The suffering the Jews went through was painful and made me very emotional. Genocide is the worst form of human atrocities. It is important to learn the truth as it brings light to everything and makes one forget and forgive the perpetrators of such horrifying activities. As I toured the museum and saw the photos, seeing other attendants respond to the exhibits and looking at the videos, and imagination of the holocaust crosses my mind.
There were many adolescents accompanied by their parents at the museum, and I thought that visiting the museum to learn about the genocide was the best education the adolescents needed to know. It enables them to understand the history and that human being are capable of committing crimes against fellow human beings and that this needs to be stopped.
My reaction is that we need to learn more about mass killings. I gained from the tour of the museum as it teaches us our responsibility and evaluates our moral standards as citizens. There is much guilt associated with the holocaust that happened many years ago and miles away. There is a need to recognize these activities in our national consciousness. I came to learn the effects of the holocaust as perpetuated through prejudice, stereotyping, and racism.
Haugen, B. (2007). The Holocaust Museum. Washington, DC: Capstone.
Longerich, P. (2010). Holocaust: The Nazi Persecution and Murder of the Jews. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.