So here I am posting for the second time in a week! Hopefully, I am starting a trend of more frequent posting! As I said in my last update, I am in Bethesda, Maryland for some medical treatments until Friday. Bethesda is right outside Washington D.C. so I have had ample opportunity to do some exploring around the city. This past weekend I hit four different museums and the Washington National Cathedral (visit this place-it is like being transported to England)! However, for the purposes of the blog I am choosing to post a bit of a personal review of the Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Obviously, this was the one place that I knew for sure was at the top of my list to visit while here in DC. So, Saturday morning I met up with an old friend from college to tour the museum. We got there at the opening at 10 am and stood in line for only a few minutes. There are a few exhibits one can explore at will, but for the permanent exhibit you have to get (free) tickets. We went early enough in the day that we didn’t need to wait but were ushered directly to the exhibit. One complaint I did have about the museum was that it was freezing cold, so be sure to bring a sweater (or a winter coat and wool scarf)!
As you begin the tour you are given a small identification card which looks like a passport. Inside it contains the story of an actual person who lived through the horrors of the Holocuast.
You are then ushered into an elevator where the museum employee gives a bit of background before being set loose to explore the exhibit on your own.
I have been to several Holocaust/Jewish museums and World War II and Holocaust history are passions of mine, so most of the information was familiar to me. However, I thought it was very well done and would be quite informative especially for someone who was not very familiar with the history of the war and surrounding events.
It is a self-guided tour beginning with a history of the period leading up to the war. I felt that it did a good job with documenting the entire course of events beginning with the years after the Treaty of Versailles at the end of WWI. Often Americans tend to think of WWII as the time in which the US was specifically involved, but the stage for the Holocaust was set many years before the war actually began. The museum gives an excellent and extensive background of the events and political climate in the years leading up to when Hitler actually came to power.
The tour guides you through the early years when the political climate began to turn in Germany and walks you through the various stages of Hitlers rise and expansion. One thing I found fascinating which other museums haven’t put much focus on was the American response to the refugee crisis. In light of current events it was very though-provoking. You can go through the permanent exhibit at your own pace and it can take about 1 to 2 hours depending on how many of the visual presentations you want to sit through and how extensively you read the information.
While the permanent exhibition is the main thing to see, when planning your visit don’t forget that there are other exhibits on display as well. There is also a candle-filled memorial room to sit and contemplate the enormity of what you have just seen and heard. The purpose of this museum is to educate, document, and memorialize these horrific events in an attempt to keep them from happening again. Given the state of the world today I can’t state how important it is that we educate the next generation about these things. In my opinion, with parental supervision, this is a perfectly acceptable place to bring your children. Can I even say it is a NECESSARY place to bring your children. These things happened to real people and they are happening still. The sign outside the museum reads…
“The next time you witness hatred, the next time you witness injustice, the next time you hear about genocide, THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU SAW.”
Places like this help to insure that we don’t forget. So when planning your trip to DC, put this one at the top of your list!