Holocaust exhibition at the Imperial War Museum

By | April 26, 2019

We visited the Imperial War Museum this week and in particular the Holocaust memorial exhibition.

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

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

Although I’ve seen many of them before, the images the ghettos with 30% of the population of Warsaw crammed into 2.4% of the area of the city.

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

Perhaps what was most shocking was the adoration that his people demonstrated towards Hitler and his power to motivate, to stir and convince.

The blame laid at the feet of the Jewish people. Jews looked quite different then.

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

There were 10 million Jews 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 exterminated between 1933 and 1945.

Letter to 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:

I visited the museum this weekend for the first time.

I would like to provide some feedback in particular about the Holocaust section; I have to say that although I have read about the subject quite extensively, 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 single piece of information, quote, citation, witness video.

Thank you for this effort with “interactive” experiences which might not seem significant to all, such as finding oneself in the railway car on the road to Auschwitz, which was just one more emotional experience in a long series, and which made the message hit home.

I found the footage of Hitler, the background information about the attitude to Jews quite shocking and the filmed experiences of witnesses, the atmosphere portrayed in the ghettos, all of this a very moving experience.

I guess I want to thank you for your “dedication” to make the exhibition so clear and straightforward about the attitudes of some 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 remembrance of this period.

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

Further reading

What lessons? What is to be learned? How to avoid recurrence?

Why have people hated Jews for so long? It is 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.

So far the conclusion is that people hate Jews really for their religion, although the author identifies several reasons including their chosenness.

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