USHMM: A Comprehensive View of the Holocaust
Students take an eye-opening trip to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in D.C.
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The Holocaust and Genocide Honors classes recently took a trip to Washington D.C. to visit the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. On March 22nd, students boarded busses for a trip that was not only educational, but also very eye opening for many of the students. Despite some of the difficult topics discussed, many students still found this trip beyond remarkable and worthwhile.
Junior Abigail Chutnik was one of those who shared her experience, stating, “The Holocaust Museum wasn’t anything I expected it to be. In fact, it exceeded my expectations. The depressing exhibits, the gloomy atmosphere, the appalling images, the horrific artifacts, and the striking videos made the museum so remarkable. Several times I was almost driven to tears walking through each part of the museum. However, my favorite part was the room with all of the pictures of the people from a village who died in the Holocaust. All of those people looked so happy in those pictures and each picture made me think ‘this could be me or my family and friends.’ Overall, because of the museum, I was able to see a lot of what was in the Holocaust like the cattle car or even the shoes, and learn more about the Holocaust. It was such an emotional experience for me and I won’t hesitate going back again.”
In an interview with Mr. Murray, the teacher in charge of the Holocaust and Genocide trip, explained to The Arrowhead the significance of this trip and what it means to him.
Where did you you go and what did you do on the trip?
We went to the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C. On the way to and from the museum we watch Holocaust testimony and a film about the Holocaust. Upon arrival we had a meeting with a Holocaust survivor before touring the museum.
What was the highlight of the trip or your favorite part?
After having done this so many times over the years, for me it is the interactions with the students. Joking on the bus, answering questions during our walk though the museum, discussing our reflections on what we witnessed and learned. For the students I would imagine it is the authenticity of the exhibits within the museum and meeting a Holocaust survivor.
What would you say the significance of the trip is?
The trip is the biggest part of the Holocaust & Genocide Honors course. It not only reflects what we are learning but helps us to understand why we all need to do our part to make sure intolerance and hatred are not tolerated. Whether on a global scale or within our hallways we all must do our part. We can’t expect to change the world if we are unwilling to change the world around us.
How did the students enjoy it?
I think you would have to ask them this question but I get the sense that they enjoyed the trip and understand the significance of why we all must do our part to combat hatred and discrimination.
What did you have to do in order to prepare the students to go?
Before going to the museum several things need to be accomplished. First and foremost the students and I need to get to know each other. The Holocaust is a sensitive subject and my students need to feel comfortable asking me difficult questions and discussing sensitive topics. We have to build an understanding of the events that led to this event. We need to understand that these people do not represent a statistic, they were people and we need to look at them as such. Last, a historical understanding [of] the development of anti semitism, the history of Germany from unification in 1871 to the collapse of the Weimar Republic in 1933, and the development of the Nazi party and Adolf Hitler. Following this we discuss the development of the Holocaust from the Nazi takeover in 1933 to the Wannsee Conference in 1942.