My initial impression of the museum was that they should really invest in more elevators and stairways. There were so many people getting on and off the elevators and getting in each other?s way that I thought I would not have enough time to see all the exhibits. But once on the tour, I was completely focused on the many different exhibits. The many artifacts from the holocaust were amazing. Complete Nazi war uniforms, and weapons, actual concentration camp bunk beds, and many personal effects belonging to victims and survivors. The exhibit that most impressed me was the replica of the entry gates to a concentration camp and the replica of a gas chamber. The exactness and detail was incredible.
The two exhibits that made the biggest impression on me were the L.A. riot exhibit and the holocaust survivor guest speaker. The L.A. riot exhibit consisted of an interactive time line that portrays the series of event that led to the riots starting at the beating of Rodney King, to the acquittal of the police officers involved, to the riots and on to the aftermath. Each section has consists of video and text of the topic, the has a question and answer section where I was given the opportunity to voice my opinion, then the computer showed a graph showing the opinions of others. The other exhibit wasn?t actually an exhibit, it was an actual holocaust survivor that told of her experiences before, during and after the holocaust. And at the end of the lecture, she held a question and answer session. Her name was Greta Goldberg, she was 18 years old at the time of her incarceration at the infamous Auschwitz concentration camp. Although she was unskilled, she worked as a nurse in the camp hospital. Fortunately, her cousin was a doctor and was able to pass her off as a nurse to the guards. Her stay in Auschwitz definitely wasn?t a pleasant one, but it was better than most others. Mrs. Goldberg interacted with Josef Mengele almost on a daily basis as he came through the hospital to decide who lived and who died. She talked of how hard it was for her to live a somewhat decent life while her friends and family lived in squalor. Mrs. Goldberg and her cousin were the only members of her immediate family to survive the camp. She lost both parents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, a total of 35 relatives. At the end of her story she was asked if she still missed her parents. She replied with a poem. It said that during the whole experience, she was so sure that her family was alive because the guards told her so that she didn?t mourn for them. When she was liberated after 8 months of incarceration she was sure that they would be waiting for her at home, so she still didn?t mourn for them. And by the time she realized that they weren?t coming home, she hadn?t yet mourned for them, and so 55 years later she still mourns for them.
I don?t feel that I learned anything new as far as racism, injustice, or intolerance are concerned, I think that I have a clear understanding of the mechanics of these things. What I did learn from my visit to The Museum of Tolerance are the stories of individuals that were witness to the events that took place during the L.A. riots and the holocaust.
The L.A. riot exhibit allowed me to see the many acts of courage and acts of injustice that I was previously unaware of. This exhibit affected me more than the holocaust survivor guest speaker because it was personal to me. My father is a Los Angeles police officer and was called into action at the onset of the riot. My mom and I didn?t hear from him for almost 24 hours and didn?t know what to think. We were more concerned with our own drama than the many other dramas portrayed on the news. But in seeing the riot exhibit, I was almost moved to tears by viewing the atrocities people were inflicting on other people and the heroic acts of kindness of other people. I knew about Reginald Denny and the people who lost their businesses, but there were many other stories that were just as bad and not publicized that I was unaware of. For example there was one man who was beaten unconscious, then had his genitals spray painted by his attackers and then there were the others who were pulled from their cars and beaten as equally bad as Reginald Denny, but weren?t as publicized because the media didn?t have as clear of a shot of the incidents. And in the midst of all these atrocities, I didn?t realize that there were good Samaritans who risked their lives to help the people being victimized. There was the priest who stood by an unconscious man and defended him from hoodlums, passersby who picked up and drove people to safety and the many nearby residents who provided shelter for victims and potential victims. These people are truly heroes. I thought these were only isolated incidents, but as it turns out there were a lot of good people taking action.