Dear Dad: About My Panic at the Holocaust Museum

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Dear Dad,

I recently left a note for you at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. I expressed my appreciation for your efforts to defeat the Nazis in World War II. I now need to tell you about another extremely powerful experience. The next day after visiting the wall, I visited the Holocaust Museum, Yad Vashem. I must tell you about how overwhelming the experience was.

Even though I had been to Holocaust Museums before, due to the current political situation in the world, and particularly in the USA, I viewed the history of the rise of the Nazis from a new perspective. The Yad Vashem exhibits try to explain how Germany, one of the worlds most advanced civilizations, could move from democracy to a totalitarian regime in just a few years. I was particularly upset as I reviewed Hitler’s campaign to become Chancellor.

“Hitler vowed to make Germany strong again, refused to pay reparations, repudiate the Versailles Treaty, stamp out corruption, bring the money barons (especially the Jews) to heel. Also to see to it that every German had a job and bread, “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich” by William S. Shirer.

As I walked through the labyrinth of exhibits, I saw how Hitler systematically moved to make Germany great again. As you know, Dad, I am an author. I was particularly mortified by the photos of the book burnings which the Nazis organized. Hitler also attacked the press and vowed to make the military strong again. My panic rose as I began to sense eerie similarities between the Nazis rise to power and what is going on in our country today.

After about an hour, I knew that I had seen enough and that I had to get out as soon as possible from the exhibit. Only then did I realize the architects had designed the museum so that there was no way out, except to go through. They had intentionally designed it this way to illustrate how the Jews of Europe were trapped in their communities with no place to go and no one to rescue them.

I tried to move as quickly as I could without looking at any more of the depictions of violence and murder. I was going so fast, I was afraid I would trip. My heart was racing so fast, I was afraid I would lose my breath. Finally, I reached the end of the tunnel and emerged into the light.

Can you believe who I discovered as I left the museum exhibit? A group of 30 German tourists! At first they made me even more nervous, but then I realized that they had also been extremely moved and deeply troubled by their experience of visiting the museum. Their visit was also motivated, just like me, by the desire to be sure that they would never tolerate such a horrendous holocaust to occur again.

Dad, sad to say we live today in a world where these atrocities continue to happen. I have worked in Rwanda where 1 million citizens were murdered by the remaining 9 million of their own brethren. In Syria, a regime is murdering it’s own people and the world and is unwilling to let the refugees flee to safety, just as happened to our Jewish people, as they were trying to flee Europe.

Dad, please rest assured that your family members continue your fight to provide a world where there is safety and liberty for all. We will not give up the fight.

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