Holocaust exhibition at the Imperial War Museum

We visited the Holocaust memorial exhibition at the Imperial War Museum this week.

I was speechless afterwards. I found it even harder hitting than Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. There seems to be more quotations, philosophy of the Nazi state, about the ghettos, the final solution and the officers involved.

I’ve never seen so much material of the Nazi racist ideology. The hatred, the blame, the feeling that Jews are second-class. He said of the Jews, “A dangerous race but surely not human”.

I’ve seen many such pictures before but the image 30% of the Warsaw population crammed in 2.4% of the city shocked me.

The quotes from Hitler. The witness of people from the camps. Killings in the woods.

Perhaps most disturbing was the devotion that his people demonstrated towards Hitler and his power to motivate, to stir and convince.

Nazis blamed Jews for the economic woes of Germany. Jews looked different then. They were more noticeable due to the way they dressed.

I recalled that Jews were in ghettos before WW2, started coming out. Then again repressed. The Nazi government passed 2000 decrees restricting Jews in all walks of life.

The 1936 Olympic games gave Hitler a marvellous platform. Jews even won medals. Nazis hid anti-Jewish material during the games.

10 million Jews lived in Europe before WW2 mostly in the East. Now only around 1.5 million with most having emigrated to Israel or the United States. But six million Jews were killed between 1933 and 1945.

Letter to the Imperial War Museum

I was so moved that I wrote to the Imperial Museum to thank them for the “quality” of the exhibition. Here is my letter:

We visited the museum this weekend for the first time.

I would like to provide some feedback about the Holocaust section; I have to say that although I have read about the subject, the exhibition moved me very much. Indeed I have visited Yad Vashem in Jerusalem which also was also shocking, but I found that your presentation was particularly informative.

I found that I wanted to read and see every piece of information, citation, witness video.

Thank you for these impressive “interactive” experiences such as finding oneself in the railway car on the road to Auschwitz. This recalls one emotional experience in a long series and a message which really hit home.

The footage of Hitler, the background information about the attitude to Jews and the filmed experiences of witnesses, the atmosphere portrayed in the ghettos, was a very moving experience.

I want to thank you for explaining the attitudes towards Jews in the thirties. I hope, of course, that it will open the minds of the many and serve, as intended, as a warning and needed a memorial of this period.

It is relevant that I’m of Jewish heritage, my grandfather died in Auschwitz, and so this has special meaning for me personally. Thank you

Further Reading

What lessons have we learned? How to avoid recurrence?

Why have people hated Jews for so long? It’s not enough to say they killed Jesus.

I determined to read more, to find out why people hate and hated the Jews. I started reading this book Why the Jews?: The Reason for anti-Semitism by Dennis Prager.

The author’s conclusion is that people hate Jews for their religion, but also because Jews declare themselves the chosen people.

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