Every millennial could use a trip to the Holocaust Museum

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Posted 4/17/18 (Tue)

Passing Dreams
By Steve Andrist

Washington, D.C., is not just the seat of government for the United States of America and the home of historic and stirring memorials.
It is a mecca of museums.
The Smithsonian Institution, the National Air and Space Museum, the National Museum of Natural History, the National  Museum of American History, the National Museum of African American History, the National Museum of the American Indian, the International Spy Museum and on and on.
But if I had to pick the top two must-see museums in D.C., they would be the Newseum and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
The Newseum, not just because it recognizes newspapers as the first draft of history, but because its exhibits are a captivating display of current and cultural events from way back when to just a bit ago. It brings back memories that patrons of every age actually lived.
The Holocaust Museum because no one should ever, ever forget.
The chemical attack last week on hundreds of Syrian people by the own government was horrific.
The systematic torture and murder of 6 million people in the Nazi death camps was indescribably horrific.
Six million people.
That’s the equivalent of 4,000 towns the size of Crosby or Tioga.
It’s the equivalent of almost eight North Dakotas. Two Twin Cities areas or Chicagos.
Six million people over the course of a dozen years in the 1930s and ‘40s rounded up, tortured, starved and ultimately murdered in gas chambers and incinerated.
No one should ever, ever forget.
And yet a study conducted by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany and released last week on Holocaust Remembrance Day found that two-thirds of American millennials cannot identify Auschwitz.
Twenty-two percent of millennials in the poll said they haven’t heard of the Holocaust or are not sure whether they’ve heard of it — twice the percentage of U.S. adults as a whole who said the same, according to a report in the Washington Post.
A visit to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum would tell them that Auschwitz was a concentration camp, or extermination camp. At least 1.3 million people were deported to the camp, run by Nazi Germany in occupied Poland, from 1940 to 1945, and 1.1 million of them were killed. It was the largest concentration camp among many built by the Nazis during their campaign to wipe out the Jews and other groups.
This is not irrelevant ancient history.
It’s a time when Franklin D. Roosevelt dominated American politics. Ted Williams batted .400. Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. The first “Captain America” comic book was published.
And there was the genocide of 6 million Jews.
If you haven’t been to the Holocaust Museum, there’s a surefire way to learn that the Holocaust was tragically real.
Google “Holocaust shoes” and you can see a picture of a display containing thousands of shoes confiscated from arriving prisoners at the Majdanek concentration camp in German-occupied Poland.
Big ones, little ones, work shoes, dress shoes, men’s, women’s and children’s shoes.
All once protected the feet of living, breathing human beings.

Irony of the week
Sinclair Broadcasting owns 173 local TV stations across the country.
Its owners have directed their anchors to decry “the troubling trend of irresponsible, one-sided news stories” and “fake news” stories.
The owners, a family of wealthy Republican donors and Donald Trump supporters, also mandate that the stations run commentary from a former Trump adviser and “parrot its conservative, pro-Trump view,” writes Erik Wemple for the Washington Post.
Apparently, one-sided news is not acceptable – unless it’s the right side.