Holocaust Museum, Washington DC – A Grim, Thought Provoking Experience

By Lakshmi:

Who?  Anyone visiting the Washington DC area must plan a visit to this museum.

What? The Holocaust Museum is located at:

100 Raoul Wallenberg Place, SW
Washington, DC 20024

How? You can take the Metro to the Smithsonian station and walk to the museum located a block away.  Parking is limited and driving is not recommended.  The museum is open every day except Yom Kippur (September 26, 2012) and Christmas Day (December 25).  From March through August, the museum’s busiest season, passes are required to enter the Permanent Exhibit (a must do if you are planning to visit).  The best way to visit is to pay the $1.00 convenience fee per ticket and get them ahead of time through http://www.extremetix.com/.  On occasion, when we have tried to wing it with a last-minute visit, the lines have been very long and sometimes we have had to walk away disappointed.  During the rest of the year, passes are not needed.  More details on visiting can be found on the Museum’s very comprehensive website at http://www.ushmm.org/.

Why?  The Holocaust Museum is one of the most comprehensive dedications and learning centers for anyone trying to better understand this incomprehensible period in history.  From the first exhibit that greets you, “Remember the Children”: Daniel’s story which provides a young German Jewish boy’s perspective on the holocaust, to the portion of the permanent exhibit that shows you actual remains of the gruesome acts inflicted on mankind, the museum manages to be a sensitive, poignant and gut wrenching dedication that moves you.   As you hear the video testimonials of survivors and watch footage from history, as you look at how tooth extractions were performed to remove gold fillings, as you look at how hordes of people were inhumanly pushed to their death, there is one word that resonates in your ear…WHY?  This is probably what goes through a lot of people’s minds as you watch visitors nod their heads in disbelief, some shielding their teens from some of the images, many eyes welling up with tears.

The museum does recommend that you be 11 years of age or older to view the permanent exhibits.  We have taken our kids when they were younger to the children’s exhibits, and for us, it felt appropriate to expose them to this part of history.

For me personally, each monument or place that I have visited to better understand the Holocaust be it the Pinkas Synagogue in Prague, the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam or  the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC, has left its own indelible mark.  Some day I would like to visit Krakow, but cannot even begin to fathom what that visit would do to the soul.

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