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Thursday, 20 August 2015

Holocaust Museum at Skokie

I have read many books on stories around holocaust survivors but the impact of going through Holocaust museum was still chilling.

Not that there are actual graphic depictions of the atrocities that were inflicted on Jews on exhibit, there is nothing like that, but the real stories of the survivors is gripping. You walk through the series of cubicles in the main exhibition hall. Each cubicle has exhibits of pictures of people and their activities during that period on the walls, some artifacts, some personal belonging like a purse, or a shoe, or a clothing and the videos of the survivors, who painfully tell their personal stories. The story unfolds as you walk from one cubicle to another. You walk through time, starting with World War 1, through rise of Nazis, the propaganda they used to portray Jews as the ones who bought down the German society, the disinformation they used making the world believe that they were taking Jews to safety when actually they were taking them to Ghettos, the train journey to gas chambers and the growth of the Nazi’s ‘final solution’

I was deeply pained to learn about the plight of young children who once lived a happy and normal lives, but were suddenly pull away from the comforts of a family life and were subjected to starvation and deprivation.

How could people be so cruel and indifferent to human sufferings? How could people have so much hatred and prejudice?

I sat in each cubicle (there was a bench to sit on in some cubicles) to watch videos of survivors. The videos gave the actual narration of the survivors who were children then (during that period). One of the survivors was the youngest in the group of 200 women, and she spoke about how everybody tried to protect her and shared their ration of food with her to keep her strong, giving her the best from the little that they had. In another video, survivor spoke of the stench and stink in the railway compartment, in which they were transported to concentration camps. A chill passed through my spine as I saw the miniature models of gas chambers and the actual railway car, that is restored and was on exhibit inside the museum. I saw some people entering the car to witness the pain (I could not) I was transported to another world and at times, I could feel as though it was in the middle of the war.

My mood lightened up when I went downstairs to the Educational hall, which was interactive with games and quiz, educating children on how to be kind and tolerant. Through this initiative, it fosters the promotion of human rights and the elimination of genocide.

‘Never again’ is the strong message you bring back home as you walk through the bookstall and out to the real world.

I spend more than three hours inside the museum but was not able to see all of it. Didn’t spend much time, watching each photograph minutely in the art gallery, nor did I wait to see the movie about genocide, nor did I enter the railway car, nor did I spend any time in the coffee shop. I wish I had.

I came out to wait for car to fetch me, it was still sunny and warm outside, a gentleman came up to me and offered me to come back inside the museum and wait in the the AC rooms. It was only two minutes wait, I did not go back in, but his kindness lingered on…….

if you are in Chicago, do go and have a lookie….
9603 Woods Dr
Skokie, IL 60077
b/t Golf Rd & Old Orchard Rd


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