Holocaust Museum

“Don’t be a bystander.”
“Don’t let the past repeat itself.”

By H.I.

Background Information
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum was established in the heart of Washington DC in 1993. It was built as a “living memorial” of the Holocaust, so that it can pay respect and pass on the experiences of the Holocaust. It also sends out a message that genocides need to be prevented. So far, it has had over 30 million visitors, including 9 million students who will lead the future of this world.

Our Experience
At the Holocaust Museum, we divided and had a tour guide take us around and explain the details about the Holocaust. I was very shocked and was left speechless when I saw the exhibits of photographs and artifacts. We were overwhelmed by the inhumane stories which were beyond belief, and simply couldn’t believe that all had happened in this world less than a hundred years ago. Overall, we strongly felt the need to eradicate genocides and to treat each other as the same human beings, notwithstanding our external appearances.

One thing that could be learnt from the tour was that not having knowledge is dangerous, and can sway you into the wrong direction without knowing it. The Nazis “brainwashed” the German citizens in many ways, such as disconnecting them from higher education and repeating the same thing through the radio. Consequently, the citizens became “bystanders” of this tragedy. This leads to a lesson we learnt in various places, which was to have our own opinions and to stand up for what we believe in. In the museum, there was a quote:

First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out
because I was not a communist.
Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out
because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the labor leaders, and I did not speak out
because I was not a labor leader.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out
because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me, and there was no one
left to speak out for me.

–The Reverend Martin Niemöller, a pastor in the German Confessing Church who spent seven years in a concentration camp

This implies that if we don’t stand up for what we believe is correct, no one will stand up for us. The quote also connects to our moral of the visit, “Don’t be a bystander, and don’t let the past repeat itself.” There were a lot of lessons we learnt from the Holocaust Museum. I believe our time there has become an unforgettable experience.

The Big Ideas
We chose “Don’t be a bystander, and don’t let the past repeat itself” as the main idea we extracted from the Holocaust Museum. Bystanders are people who think they are not involved in a certain issue, but actually are a group of people who are ignorant to the victims of it. This connects to the quote mentioned above that unless we stand up for what we believe in, there will be no one to support us when we are having a struggle. In order to have an opinion, we need to be open minded and be willing to expand our view of the world. This way, we can make the correct decisions, and never let the past repeat itself.