"Holocaust Museum will Make Lasting Impression on Visitors"
Sunday, May 2, 1999
By JAN HORGEN, Of The Globe-Gazette
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Holocaust Museum is an amazing place.
If you can get past all the security and if you are fortunate enough to obtain tickets (the most sought-after tickets of any exhibit in the city) - the experience will leave an indelible impression, I promise.
And, I'm sure members of the Mason City Concert Choir would make the same promise.
The atmosphere was hushed and reverent inside a museum filled with photographs and artifacts that tell the story of how millions of men, women and children were murdered in the concentration camps and ghettos across Europe during World War II.
Just to get to the fourth floor, the beginning of the two-level, limited exhibit, one must ride in an elevator that is made of gray metal, controlled by someone outside and unseen. Then the voice of a man, liberated from one of the death camps, comes across a speaker. His words about the horrific experiences endured by those imprisoned, beaten, starved and finally murdered set the tone.
Stepping off the elevator, everyone was quiet. On a trip filled with so much laughter and joy, the Holocaust Museum provided a stark contrast, albeit an educational one. Most of the Mason City party stayed that way throughout the entire experience.
The Holocaust is not a comfortable historical period to visit, and that is the purpose of the exhibit - that all will remember.
In one hall, the floor is cobblestone from the Warsaw Ghetto. Further down there are children's drawing, depicting their life of incarceration. In just a few more steps there are photographs of little ones who died and a linen slip or pair of tiny pants that a child wore. And further down there are piles of shoes ... dusty, dirty worn shoes with a simple poem written by a survivor.
His words remind the visitor that the shoes still exist because they were leather ... not flesh and bone and human.
Over and over the message prevails ... the loss of life - someone's mother or father or sister or brother or son or daughter - and the loss of humanity.
And around the last corner the exhibit opens into the Hall of Remembrance where the hush prevailed as visitors to the museum sat quietly reading the names of the concentration camps and ghettos that once existed. Still others lit a candle to someone they lost or perhaps simply to the loss we, as people of the world, endured.
And to the hope that, one day, the cruelty and anger and violence of the world will be replaced by courage and love and tolerance ... for all.
*This copyrighted article and photographs are reprinted with the permission of The Globe Gazette and are not to be reproduced.*