I knew I had to mentally prepare myself for what I would see today. The mere thought of millions of people being mass murdered because of their beliefs was gut wrenching.Yes, the Holocaust actually happenedThis was evident in the many pictures and video clips on display in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Although the video footage was horrific, I forced myself to watch. I told myself that if these people had to endure such morbid treatment, I could at least give them my respect by watching their pain.
The museum consisted of three full floors of Holocaust history and artifacts. The artifacts were actually owned by victims and included eyeglasses, toothbrushes and shoes.
Yes, shoes. Thousands and thousands of shoes.
I heard about the pile of shoes on display in the museum previously, but after an hour I still hadn’t come across them. The moment I thought of this, I turned the corner and immediately froze. My stomach turned. Raw and unrelenting, stood the display of hundreds of holocaust victims’ shoes. They smelled old and musty. Tossed and forgotten, they belonged to the millions murdered. The shoes were a symbol of the treatment given to the Jewish prisoners of the Nazi concentration camps.
“One shoe, two shoes, a dozen shoes, yes. But how can you describe several thousand shoes?” –Edward R. Murrow
There is also a train car that transported the Jews to the camps on display. As I walked inside the car I instantly felt an eerie panic come over me. I imagined 100 other people packed in there with me. I felt sick and I started to tear up.
None of us will ever understand the extent of the Holocaust. No matter how many times I visit the museum, I will never truly understand why or how it happened. But I do know that we can never let something like it happen again. Later, as I ventured into the bookstore I noticed much of the merchandise had the same phrase “Think About What You Saw” printed on it. That is exactly what I did and will continue to do. Let’s work together to never let something so horrendous happen again.