It’s seems rather odd how often I’m compelled to see life’s downside; yet enjoy wherever I may be.
Today was one of those days. St. Petersburg, Fl was warm and the air felt like spring. So why was I compelled to see a Holocaust Museum?
Wherever I travel, be it in Europe or the USA, if a town has a museum or an exhibit dealing with this issue I visit it. Perhaps it’s the masochist in me or perhaps it’s my conscience. Whatever it is forgive me and my editorial statements as I briefly share a picture of total evil.
It starts with imaging the difficulty of pushing 140 people into this train car — some would be in rags. Others in their finery. Only a can in a corner for a toilet–not many can get to it — what a way to start a journey to hell!:
Entering the museum we all smile and joke with the staff. Then we are each given a personal radio wand filled with anecdotal information. This separates us. Now each of us has to experience the stories, the pain and yes, the shame of our humanity. this museum alone. Without skipping a beat anti-semitism through the ages is succinctly explained–ouch:
“The History of Hate”. Jews have been scapegoats for hundreds of years from the Spanish Inquisition (15th century) to Henry Ford (and Charles Lindbergh) in the 20th century:
Of course, it was Adolph Hitler and the Nazis who carried out the “Shoah or Final Solution”:
From 1930 until 1945 the Nazis attempted to extinguish the Jews using any means possible:
At first the plan was to let Jews go to whomever would take them; however the rabidness elements of the Nazi Party chose a more permanent way to solve the Jewish question.
This first led to “Kristallnacht” or the night of broken glass — the burning of 1,000 synagogues, 7,500 Jewish owned businesses and the arrest of 30,000 Jews. This activity was followed with blatant identification — Jews are forced to wear the Star of David on their clothing:
Eventually Jews were forced into ghettos:
By the mid-1930’s, the Nazis were arresting Gypsies, homosexuals, political opponents, clergy and Jews. Most were sent to concentration camps to perform hard labor–such as working for the arms industry.
However, many were often murdered just for who they were. Over time Special labor and death camps were established in Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungry — below is a model of Auschwitz both a labor and death camp — many camps like this one and Dachau had the inscription “Arbeit Macht Frei (Work Sets You Free)” over the entrance:
By 1942, Nazi leadership determined that a “Final Solution” had to be implemented to rid the world of all Jews. The Wannsee conference decided the final fate of all Jews within the purview of the Third Reich and it’s allies–named “Operation Reinhard” after an assassinated Nazi:
Now all Jews would face either bullets or gas — below people are shot by guns such as this and buried in mass graves:
In the camps Nazis kept order with weapons such as whips as did special Jewish police who were selected by Nazis to keep prisoners in check:
Nazi doctors ignored their Hippocratic Oath performing horrific experiments on prisoners–these “tools” belonged to Dr. Josef Mengele — the “Angel of Death” of Auschwitz–he was never captured:
Meanwhile, the rest of the world failed to take action to stop the horror. As the Nazis killed 6 MILLION people everyone in the world seemed to look the other way.
The US government finally notice when a Jewish cabinet member angrily forced the issue with FDR. Treasury Secretary Henry Morganthau convinced the president to establish a Refugee Board — alas, too little and too late:
Jewish prisoners did attempt to escape the camps — but uprisings were handled with deadly force:
The end of WWII finally saw the liberation of the death camps by Allied forces:
Was it too late? Yes, for many it was — still some vainly tried to help:
Though many perished — some of those below risked their own lives to save others:
These are only a few of the heroes that worked to thwart the Final Solution.
What can we learn from this terrible situation? Hate must be met with love. No one should ever turn a blind eye to antisemitism or for that matter racism. Especially now–we all must face down the bigotry of those who fail to understand the pain of the past, and of today.
None of us is immune to bigotry. It is in everything that surrounds us. And at times its hidden within us. But if we are honest we must call it out and move forward with a genuine openness to our fellow man. Our failure means these people perished in vain and I refuse to accept that — do you?:
No matter where one travels people have been, or continue to suffer no matter the reason. Whether it’s in the Sudan, Sri Lanka, China or the US so say it now with me “the Holocaust must never happen again!!”