Grade 7 & 8 Washington Trip: The United States National Holocaust Museum

Today we were off in our uniforms to the Holocaust Museum. We started off on the top floor, after we got off the elevator that was symbolic of a gas chamber. The floor was separated into time zones from when the Nazis came to power and started to spread their propaganda. There was lots of evidence of the camps and names written of those lost and photos of life before and after propaganda and hatred had spread. Unfortunately, the shoes that are usually a very memorable exhibit were not there, as they were updating the exhibit. There was a wall of photos with iPads and you could scan a picture and read about the people’s stories. I found that very interesting and memorable. At the end of the permanent display is the memorial and we recited the Mourners Kaddish as we remembered the lost and shared with other schools that were there this experience and it created an impact for their lives.

After a quick lunch, we went back to the museum and we were able to meet and talk with some very sweet and grateful Holocaust survivors. We were able to read about them and ask questions. My question that I asked was how did their experience change their view of the world today. Most of them said they are very careful and sometimes still scared. They continue to be alert to their surroundings but still try to live life to its fullest. There was one man who was dropped off as a baby on a church step and adopted but then reunited with his family a few years later. He was 70 years old before he found out that he was in the Holocaust and a survivor after he read about his life in a book written by his cousin, who was still alive. His grandmother and mother never told him, so he was able to live on without thinking of the tragedy his family went through. The lady beside him noticed my Magen David necklace and asked if I was Jewish and wanted me to share a little about me and why we were visiting. After that, I went through a temporary exhibit called Daniel’s story where I could see the experience through a young person’s eyes. There were letters he wrote in his diaries and the the contrast between his home and the concentration camp. It was interactive. There were 1,500,000 lights to remember the children who were murdered. At the end of that we were able to write and display our thoughts of the museum and how we view the world today.

As the day switched moods, we took the city bus back to the hotel for a swim. We got ready for a fancy dinner at the hotel. After dinner we boarded a bus to go to the Kennedy Center where we watched a play called Sheer Madness. It was a hilarious play about a hairdressing shop. We will leave the rest as a mystery for you to find out one day when you attend. It was a special night because one of the actors was retiring after 35 years (to the day) and more than 15,000 shows. We cheered loud when schools were mentioned. We were the smallest school there.

A quick call to our parents before bed. It was an emotional and eventful day.