By: Sarah Schroeder
This afternoon we visited the United States Memorial Holocaust Museum. This is my first time in Washington D.C. and this experience was one I had being looking forward too. Spending a couple of hours walking through the museum was an incredibly somber, yet rewarding time.
What stuck out to me the most about the museum was the vast amount of pictures documenting the timeline of the Holocaust. Many of the photos are shocking. The museum showcases photos of just about every event and scene imaginable. It is so much easier to attempt to understand the impact of the Holocaust on the people who lived through it when you can see pictures from the time.
The Ejszyszki Shtetl Collection of photographs was especially breathtaking. Photos line sky-high walls from floor to ceiling, showcasing the residents of Jewish communities before the Holocaust occurred.The collection is comprised of hundreds of photographs taken mostly by Yitzhak Uri Katz; his wife, Late Katz; their assistant, Ben-Zion Szrejder; and Rephael Lejbowicz.
What struck me most about the photos was the proof of the Jewish communities strong community presence in the area Eishishok town in what is now Lithuania. These were communities full of Jews that had established lives. When thinking about such a horrific event, it is hard to associate the tragedies with real people. The photos show families, and children, and pets, and young friends. They show laughter, and friendship, and family, and faith. After seeing the photos, it is impossible to disassociate the faces from the events.
“The Jewish community had a rich religious culture and an energetic secular life”- Holocaust Museaum
History cannot be forgotten. Unless you are a politics major, it is easy to forget, or not think about often, the importance of history on politics and international affairs. History can provide us some of the greatest lessons that carry on to the present day political atmosphere.
Dr. Yaffa Eliach, professor of history and literature at Brooklyn College, gather the photographs from more than 100 different families. The photographs came from the Holocaust period, and the years that preceded it, 1890-1941.
These photographs remind us of the tragedies that occurred during the Holocaust and serve as a reminder of the loss of humanity and human lives. The showcase acts in a way to ensure that history will remember.
After all, pictures say a thousand words.