New Jen's Horde

Monday, March 27, 2006

Monday Memories: The Holocaust Museum


Monday Memories: Did I ever tell you about the time I went to the United States Holocaust Museum?

It was in 1995, I was 22 weeks pregnant with Anya, and I flew to Quantico, VA to visit my dad and sister who were stationed there at the time, and their families. I was feeling pretty good, and excited to see everyone.

One of the things I really wanted to do while I was in the D.C. area, was to see the newly opened Holocaust Museum. we sat down and looked over everyone's schedules, and determined that the only day we could go would be on a Thursday, and that we'd need to take my 15 month old niece with us. I didn't understand why Dad was groaning at first, he was used to dealing with his granddaughter. I found out it had nothing to do with us babysitting, and everything to do with driving into D.C. and trying to park in the middle of the week...

So, we set off, got into the general Capitol area, and parked. I think we actually parked closer to Quantico than to the museum, or it seemed that way at least. We walked for a day or two, thankfully we were able to negotiate for provisions at hot dog stands along the way. When we finally arrived at the museum, we had to wait to get in. It was free to the public, but you had to get a ticket for the time you would enter. That was OK with me, because I needed to give my already overweight, 5 months pregnant, just pushed a too short stroller 40 miles through rough terrain legs a break.

To read more, click the .*.*. way below.

When our time came, we went through security tigher than any I've seen even in post-9/11 airports. We had to take off our shoes, and pass them and our bags through metal detectors. I had to collapse the stroller and pass it through the metal detector, then pass my niece to a pleasant, but vigilant, lady, who patted her down and made sure we hadn't retrofitted her into a conversion bomb. We were all wanded, even though the archway didn't beep, and then allowed to regroup. It was pretty unusual, but I do have to say that I felt pretty safe the rest of the time I was in the museum!

Then we entered an elevator with the rest of our group (the other people who had the same entry time we did) and went to the top of the building. (You didn't have to stay with your group the whole time, they just staggered the entries to break up the crowds a little.) At the top they had the exhibits relating to the beginning of the holocaust, and proceeded chronologically as you walked through the building, so you could get a "beginning to end" sort of experience.

There were photos of villages that were completely gone, where no one had made it. There were voice recordings of survivors telling their stories. There was art, and poetry, and the children, oh man, the children. (If you're interested, you can see a searchable database of the 6 million Jewish victims here. This site holds recordings of survivors.)

I am a pretty emotional person, and I was pregnant to boot, so I bet you think I was just bawling, right? Normally you'd be right. But, today I was completely panicking. My 15 month old niece wouldn't stop crying. I am pretty sure that other people were understanding, but there's only so much other people can take. If my precious cutesy-poo of a niece was bugging me, I was sure she wasn't adding to anyone else's ambience.

Even worse than the fact that she was crying, was that I had no idea why! Now that I have kids of my own, I know this was smack in the middle of nap time, we'd fed her nothing but soft pretzels all day, plus at one point we lost her pacifier (Dad ran back and found it, he never said how far it was. You have to give that man some credit for stoicism). To make matters worse, I couldn't find a diaper deck so I kept having to change her, rather inexpertly as it was, in an umbrella stroller that wouldn't fold down, so she was just DONE with all of this. Of course, this topic really wasn't at all interesting to her, either. So we ended up rushing quite a bit.

My dad, the King of the Understatement, said as we exited the building, "That was really interesting, but I didn't think it was going to be quite so DEPRESSING." Yeah, depressing, that's the word for it.

If you get a chance, go! It's truly amazing. Just wait for a time when you're not babysitting if you're clueless, you'll get more out of it and the other patrons will thank you.

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We have been talking about a trip to DC for awhile now. I definitely want to go to the Holocaust Museum, but I'm not sure about taking my youngest (7). I think we might want to wait until she's older.

What ages would you recommend for attending? Thanks for posting this.
As I recall, they don't pull any punches. It would depend on the 7 year old, but it's pretty intense.
I've known many Poles and east Europeans who lost their families or villages in WWII. I don't think I'd ever want to go to this museum.

Thanks for visiting my MM.
I would love to see it....We've talked about going. Very interesting topic. Thanks for coming by earlier.
When we went to the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, it was like that for me: intense, insane, and just horrendous. By the time we got out of the museum I had a migraine that didn't go away for days and felt like I could just go kill myself right now and get it done with. I know I should go see the Holocaust Museum if we ever make it to D.C. but I don't know if I could stand it. DH's family is all Jewish. I'm not sure how many of them were over there at the time of the Holocaust because a good many of them left Russia and Poland illegally before then. But just looking at the faces of those children would be enough to do me in.

I know I should have seen The Passion of the Christ too, but I didn't. I'm a wuss.
That is someplace I want to go. We're hoping to add it to our visit when I fly up to visit my gram in NH this next summer. Have no desire to take my kiddo though... TMI for a 7 yr old...
DC is somewhere my hubby has been but I haven't....we are planning a family trip up there. I will be sure to check the Holocaust Museum out. I know our kids (21 & 18) will find it as intersting as we would.

Thanks for the info! My MM is up!
The Anne Frank house in Amsterdam is really interesting too. I don't remember it being so graphic, but if you really think about how all those people lived in that cramped quarters it is sobering.

I think I would like to see the Holocaust museum, but I hate to be sad. I can't watch Schindler's List after the first time either.
I was in DC in January and that's the only musuem I won't go to. I just can't I don't know if it's because I'm Jewish and it hits to close to home or just because it's just to hard. The Wall killed me. Maybe eventually I will get up the courage but it's just not possible. I can't watch anything having to do with WW11. To difficult. I'm glad you posted that. It will give me more to think about when I do go back.

My mm is up.
It sounds amazing. My daughter is going to DC in May and one of the tours they are going on is the Holocaust Museum. She is going with a tour group from school. She saved half of the money all by herself. She is really excited and I am excited for her, too.

Thanks for coming by my MM today.
I would really like to go there sometime. Well, I guess like isn't the right word, but you know what I mean. It is so hard to fathom. I almost feel a compulsion to see it.
Wow, I wouldn't have thought about needing such high security there. This was very interesting to read.

I just posted my first Monday Memory.
Now this is a memorable post! Thank you for posting. I learned a lot.

I like the new link feature for Monday Memories! I need to get back into it but I haven't done thankful Thursday or Thursday 13 lately either.

Thanks for your comments on my blog! I responded.
Sounds really interesting! My hubby and I will have to get there if we are ever in DC (without our son of course!).
That's a tough call for us (if we should go or not). I know that my step-dad really wants to go, he teaches HS english and does the Ann Frank diary with them...but being polish he is really interested in all of that.
I haven't really covered that with DD though, we've just skimmed slaves & native americans...but she knows that they were not treated with the respect that they deserve.
I think the biggest thing is that DH's family is German. They came here long before WWII and some even fought in the war for the US, but I can't imagine that the museum shows them in a very good light.
But we'll have to do DC sometime. Thanks for sharing your memory.
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