I did not know what to expect from the Museum of Tolerance, I went in with the feeling that I was doing this just for class and was semi-interested. When we arrived we were a little early for our tour and had a little over half an hour to kill. We were directed to the second floor where the multimedia interactive computers where located. On that floor there were displays and was basically your typical museum. In the back of my mind I was wondering where all the other stuff was and I was dreading that it would be your typical museum experience. When we got tired of the computers we waited in the lobby for our tour to start.
That’s when I noticed a little display on Ann Frank’s Diary. On the display was a quote that sparked my interest but to my dismay I can not remember the whole thing, but what I do remember is that it had something to do with a Rose and a thought of her. It was a sad little entry. It got me thinking about what the Museum represented and I felt a little guilty for wanting to just get it over with. When we first entered we were lead to the tolerance section and the first thing I experienced was the Point of View Cafe. It was a powerful experience and truly demonstrates the power of speech. Like in book and movies I have read or seen in the past, I felt like climbing into the little screen and beating a little sense into the radio announcer. Its just disturbing how some people can truly believe those things. When confronted with the consequences of what they say they protest and hide behind the law, it is not their fault all they are doing is speaking the truth.
I forget what we saw next but what I do remember is the tour of the holocaust. As I walk on and listened it drew me deeper and deeper into what happened to the Jews. Just the thoughts and actions of everyone was amazing. How everyone did not think that anything would happen. Everyone just chose to ignore it and go on with his or her lives. Then came the point where things did happen and one reason given why the nazis came into power was, “If you tell a lie long enough, people will start to believe you.”
The persecution towards the Jews first started with the blaming of them for the loss of WWI. This is what blows my mind, Yes Germany lost and they choose to blame their loss on 1% of their population, the Jews. 1% of the population, how could that percentage of people influence the winning or losing of a war. All it takes is common sense to figure out that the Jews were just the scapegoats. How could a whole country of people, a whole continent join together in the systematic murder of another group?
It is disgusting that the only reason that the rest of the world stepped in was because they were starting to be threatened too. That the whole world turned a blind eye and when the Jews were at their doorsteps they were turn away and sent back to be slaughtered. As the Australians said the tour, “We don’t have a racial problem, and we don’t want to import one.” How can the entire world step back and pretend they did not see what was going on in the world? How can people happily volunteer to help massacre the Jews? I believe that is the question the museum brings up and tries to help answer.
One thing that made the tour eerie was when we entered the gates of the concentration camp. Where the carpet tuned to stone and the gates were just sitting open. I can not even try to feel how the Jews felt when they were forced into those gates. The next thing that made me think was when we entered the shower room. I just sat in the corner and just looked around while everyone watched the videos. I was thinking to myself, how people can even come up with this concept. It just took all the energy out of me. When the tour ended we were asked one last question, “Who’s fault was it?” With the school that was with us many of the students answered, “Hitler!” but they were wrong. Their teacher answered the right answer, “All of us.” And that sent a hush throughout her students.
As we were getting ready to go we stopped by the gift shop, I noticed a poster that added closure to my little field trip. It was a picture of a Jewish family being lead down a crowded street by armed Nazi’s and a little boy had both his hands raised and underneath it read, “AND THE WORLD STOOD SILENT”. How could the rest of the world not intervene, in their silence they seemed to be endorsing the activities of the Nazis. It is disturbing that in the short time human beings have been on this planet, we have delt out unspeakable horrors to one another. I hope and I believe that the point of the Museum of Tolerance is this, history should no longer repeat itself, and we must cancel the pattern that we seem to have lived in for so long. The horrors of the past should be remembered and avoided in our future at all costs, and we should learn from the errors of the past.