Earlier this month, two of our interns, Reed and Jake (high school students from New York), took the day off of work to visit the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. In this blog, they reflect on what they learned from the experience.
During World War II, Hitler and his Nazi regime devised a plan to cruelly annihilate the Jews of Europe. Their tactics involved using stereotypes and already strained relationships between many Jews and non-Jews, to rally the people behind an atrocious, uninformed idea to create the ideal Aryan society.
As young Jews ourselves, we feel it is important that we honor and remember all of the 6 million Jewish people who lost their lives during the Holocaust. But we must do more than just remember; we must work to put an end to today’s conflicts. Visiting the museum while interning at PeacePlayers, an organization that is helping youth overcome fear, hate, and violence, helped us realize once again the importance of teaching peace.
At the Holocaust museum, we stood in a model train car that carried many Jews to Auschwitz. The carriage was small, and when we stood in there with 8 other people it felt claustrophobic and uncomfortable for us. As we read that the Nazis would force over 100 people into these cars for multiple days, the feeling of fear those people must have felt overwhelmed us. We learned that when trips were made during the winter, many froze, and during the summer, many died of suffocation in these cars. Actually standing in the model train helped us better understand the brutality of the Holocaust and the pain and suffering many Jews experienced.
It also made us think about all the suffering that is still being experienced around the world and the pain many people endure on a day-to-day basis. We reflected on the millions of homeless people living on the streets. It made us think about all the conflicts and fighting around the world. It made us realize how lucky we are to live in a peaceful part of the world with all of the resources we may need. It made us realize that we should appreciate our lives and try and help others. It made us realize that change is necessary.