Thursday, December 01, 2016

A Somber Visit

Wednesday we visited the Holocaust Museum in El Paso, Texas. It was very thought provoking. But first, why is there a there a Holocaust museum in El Paso? After World War II, El Paso became home to nearly 100 Holocaust survivors, including Henry Kellen.  He established the museum.

The museum looks at pre-war Jewish life, the rise of Nazism, the escalation of terror and "The Final Solution" and resistance and rescue.  I gained new insight into the extent of restrictions faced by Jews in Germany, and details of mass killings--I knew about the gas chambers but wasn't aware of the trenches where Jews were shot. I knew a little about resistance to the Nazis in some countries but wasn't aware of the uprisings in Polish ghettos and some of the concentration camps.

These are propaganda headlines and magazine covers with anti-Jewish messages.

Doors of homes where Jews lived were often marked with the German word for Jew.

I didn't realize that the Nazis used the hair cut off Jews to fill mattresses.

Jews had to remove their shoes and clothes in the concentration camps.  These children's shoes were found in one of the camps.

This is the yellow Star of David that was worn by Henry Kellen before he escaped the Nazis in Germany.

These are actual shower heads from a Nazi concentration camp.  I always thought they sprayed out gas.  In truth, they were fake.  Pellets of rat poison were dropped from the ceiling.  When the pellets were exposed to air, they gave off poison gas.

This the front off one of the cremation ovens used in a concentration camp.

If you click on this image you can read about the massive extermination of Jews in European ghettos.

The Nazi guards used "Collective Responsibility" to control behavior in concentration camps.  Click on this photo to see the extent they went to in retaliation of the death of Nazi personnel.  It would have been a very hard decision to revolt or attempt escape under these policies.

For a long time people in the rest of Europe and in the US were blind to what was going on in Germany.  In Germany and the rest of the world, many who at least suspected what was happening chose to do nothing.  This quote we saw at the end of the tour of the museum really spoke to me.

If you are in El Paso, a visit to the Holocaust Museum is well worth your time.

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