I could not express the solemnity that envelops the place. The atmosphere of the exhibits is obviously full of grief, but the stillness of the images somehow brought a certain kind of peace despite the bizarre scenarios they depicted. Hundreds and thousands of black and white photographs dominate the place, pictures that would forever serve as a memorial to the sufferings of the victims of the Holocaust under Nazi Germany. Everything was terrifying and I wonder what human being can commit such atrocities to others? What conscience do they hold in order to allow such evil to be perpetrated?
How could an entire nation have elected a leader whose sole intention was to massacre and eliminate an entire race and how could people then have hailed him in his ideologies? What abyss has the human character fallen to at those times? Where was mercy, where was hope, and where was love? Those pictures were filled with hell that seemed incessant to those who witnessed it. Children, parents and grandparents were all victims in this Holocaust. Six millions Jews together with other races considered inferior by the Aryan regime were exterminated and burned in crematoria. Crematoria, how could one have conceived of the idea?
Perhaps Fyodor Dostoevsky was right, men are no beast and it is an insult to the beast to be compared to humans. For no best can be so artistically cruel, of which man is so accomplished. How could one have thought of sending men and women to labor camps and make them work to their deaths? And how could one have had the idea of gassing innocent victims in chambers with carbon monoxide? No beast would have designed such an organized mass killing. No beast would have gone to the level of tearing a being beyond both flesh and soul. What man would want to witness the suffering of another?
I could not fathom the crimes that happened during those years. Indeed it is true that reality is far less believable than fiction. Holocaust Memorial Museum 2 In an exhibition in the museum, I saw a wall mounted with pictures collectively entitled as Terror in Poland. It showed faces, actual eyes and nose of those who perished in the war. But these casualties did not fall in the fields of Europe equipped with rifles and mortars, they were weaponless victims rounded up by the Germans and were brought to their deaths. No wants to die because they were left defenseless.
No one wants to face death without a fight. No eyes would want to be left opened when their spirits leave their bodies. Another wall showed pictures with people lining, hundreds of people in the streets awaiting something I knew not. When I looked at the caption it said, “Search for Refuge”. Who would have thought that this happened only half a century ago? Only a few generations away are we fortunate enough not to have experienced searching for solace in any place they could find. Back then for these people, freedom was not a right but a luxury and death is always just a few steps behind.
No person ever deserves to be compelled to search for security and no person deserves to be threatened to face annihilation. In the museum I saw pictures where a number of men were digging a hole. It seemed normal except that German soldiers were supervising these men. Then it dawned unto me that the very hole they were digging was their grave. Another similar picture shows a man sitting before another pit with a German soldier holding a gun against his head. Other members of the troops stood as spectators to the event without disdain.
These German soldiers were otherwise known as the Einsatzgruppe or the “Killing Squads”. Their name suits them, only murderers deserve such a title. The most depressing part of the exhibitions in the museum was the Tower of Faces. Thousands of images stand erect across a three-floor high museum segment commemorating the individuals massacred by the Germans and their collaborators. Children with such Holocaust Memorial Museum 3 innocent eyes were the primary victims of this operation. Massive shootings in a span of three days killed more than 8000 Jews, leaving only 29 members of the community who were able to escape.
Those who survived were nonetheless casualties, for the wounds that such events bring can never become scars, they would forever be fresh and would forever bleed. I knew little of the idea of eugenics, but in the museum, I was able to see a glimpse of the consequences of this terrible belief. I have heard of mice and guinea pigs experimented on for the sake of scientific progress. To some the idea is already inconceivable for having animals tested on is a terrible act of cruelty. How then would they react on the German doctors who performed experiments on live prisoners of the concentration and death camps of the Nazi regime?
Children, specifically twins, were the primary interest of Nazi doctors. I would never forget the story of the gypsy twins who were dissected alive and cried for days until they died. No guardian of life should ever take life. No amount of reason would justify the sacrifice of life for the advancement of science. In my tour of the museum, what attracted me the most was the exhibit on the Jewish resistance against the genocide that is threatening to eliminate their race for eternity. No one then would have imagined Jews fighting back on the Germans.
Even if they were not successful in defeating the enemy, history would forever honor them for their valor. Man should never lose the strength to survive and must never lose the courage to stand against the tempest. Many forgotten faces of men, women and children would remain buried in the mass graves of the war. They did not fall in the trenches or beachheads. They instead were shot or gassed in such an organized manner. We must forever remind the generations to come of what happened on those fields during those years of hell. We must remember and forever strive to prevent such atrocities from happening again.