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Holocaust Museum

27 Mar

For the full sensory experience of New York,

you have to know that there are

ALWAYS sirens blaring through the city.

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And their sirens sound different to ours

so we had to learn which we were hearing.

Most often, they were ambulances.

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Anyway, back to our day’s activities.

After Grand Central Terminal and the New York Public Library,

we headed to the bottom of Manhattan Island,

stopping at Bowling Green

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to take better photos of the Charging Bull.

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Hubby also wanted a photo with the bottom end of the bull.

Apparently, it’s good luck to rub the rear end of the beast.

(You can tell by the polished glean,

where the most popular spots are located.)

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Our true purpose for visiting the south of Manhattan

was to visit the Holocaust Museum.

Sadly, when we arrived, we discovered that the museum would be closing early that day

to accommodate a special event in the building.

However, we had an hour so we made use of the time we had.

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We selected the level of the museum

that focused on the main period of persecution

for our short visit.

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Our boys have extensively studied this dark period in history

so I was so pleased to be able to take them to a place

where they could see things that we’d talked and read about.

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This is a copy of Mein Kempf.

Not something to marvel over

but it certainly deserved its place

at the beginning of this part of the exhibition,

and not as a place of honour.

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Along with the book, Mein Kempf,

there were other items of hate,

like an anti-Jewish children’s book,

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which taught children to jeer at and hate Jewish people.

(Note how the Jewish characters are depicted as dark, ugly and sour).

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They also had a children’s board game,

called, “Jews Out”.

The objective of the game was to collect Jews and deport them.

These items go to show that children aren’t born to hate;

hate is taught.

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There was a lot to see in just this one level of the museum

but these are the items

that struck a cord for me.

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These Jewish identity cards made the Jewish people, more than just a race of people with a horrific past.

They became individuals.

Someone’s wife or husband, someone’s mother or father, someone’s son or daughter.

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We also learned that names were given to them

to supposedly help the non-Jewish authorities

determine their gender.

Sara was given to females and Israel was given to males.

This is Susi “Sara” Kasper’s identify card.

The card of a twelve year old child living in Berlin.

The “J” for Jew was clearly visible.

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Here are some examples of the yellow star that Jewish people

were required to wear.

We didn’t not know that the star designs varied from region to region.

We did however know that

wearing an identifying badge or piece of clothing (e.g. yellow hat)

was forced upon Jewish people as far back as the 13th century.

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These are Ghetto coins.

We had never read that there was a special currency

for the Jewish people living in the ghettos.

Just another example of persecution and isolation.

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There were a number of videos

in each section of the exhibition.

They were so well presented

that we made a point of stopping to watch each one

(and still had time to see everything on the level in our one hour).

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We also saw many personal items that were stolen from the Jewish families

(obviously they had since been legitimately donated to the museum by their rightful owners.)

Seeing things that belonged to and were cherished by these individuals

helped us make a direct connection to them.

They became more than just people we had read about in History.

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Seeing their photos,

so many photos,

(yet no where near the full amount),

at the end of the exhibition

was a stark reminder of the results of hate.

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And just after we walked through the photo gallery,

the security guard announced that the museum was closing.

Perfect timing.

We would have ‘liked’ to have seen more,

particularly the level dedicated to the concentration camps,

but perhaps it was best for us to just get to know the Jewish people

and ‘meet’ them in this almost personal way.

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