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Kayleigh Brennan November 6, 2012 Jewish Christian Relations Mr.

Tapie Holocaust Museum and Anti-Semitism I have been to the Holocaust museum many a time, but this time was particularly special. This week my mom and my grandma were here in DC to see my show and they asked if we could visit the Holocaust museum. Since I was supposed to go for class anyway, I told them we could go. We went Friday afternoon when they arrived. It was a really special experience because we are Jewish. My mom was raised with a Jewish mother and a Protestant father. My grandma had never been to the museum before and it really hit home for her, especially the fact that the museum is interactive and you get a story of an actual victim. Luckily, my grandma was able to escape Germany before things got too bad. Her family had friends in Ireland who let her family move in until they could save enough money to move to America; which was lucky for me because the little boy that lived in that house is now my grandfather. While at the museum, my grandma was very quiet because she had experienced a lot of what was shown through the experiences of friends or family. While I was not raised with any particular religion, (my parents wanted me to decide what I wanted) going to the Holocaust museum is special because it is a part of my history. The tour of the museum starts on the fourth floor where they begin the story with the origins of anti-Semitism and the rise of the Third Reich. From what I gathered at the museum, the idea of antiSemitism began as a racial issue. Adolf Hitler began convincing people that the Jews needed to be expelled from Germany because they were a lesser race that was defiling the image of Germany. He said that Aryans were the best race. The Nazi party began its rise to power by organizing boycotts of Jewish businesses and burnings of books by Jewish authors. On November 9, 1938, the Nazis destroyed synagogues and Jewish owned shops. This became known as Kristallnacht or the Night of Broken Glass. Then began the phase of genocide against the Jews. Adolf Hitler believed that since the Jews made up a race that if one converted to Christianity, it did not mean that he/she was not Jewish and therefore did not excuse his/her Jewishness. He along with other anti-Semites thought Jews were deliberately procreating with Aryans to pollute Aryan blood to strive for Jewish world domination. Their reaction to this was to eliminate the Jews first from Germany and then the rest of Europe as Hitler gained popularity. The Nazis began releasing propaganda showing the Jews as dangerous and inferior. Hitler and the Nazi party had gathered a large following of people over the continent. They brainwashed people, especially young people, in order to scare them into submission. As the tour of the museum continued, they show what life was like for the Jews during World War II. They were taken from their homes and forced into ghettos or worse, concentration camps or death camps. They were told to pack their belongings and stuffed into tiny train cars. The soldiers of the Nazi party took the belongings and scoured them for anything valuable. Then the Jews were taken into the camps and had their heads shaved and many were taken directly to the gas chambers. A small

percentage were kept for slave labor where they would usually die shortly after arrival. Conditions were awful for the people who were forced into labor. They were treated horribly, not fed, and had almost no medical attention. Often times people would die from disease. One of the things that struck me most during the tour was the scale model of what happened to the people in the gas chambers. It was really powerful and heartbreaking to see exactly what they had to go through. Another thing that was particularly striking was the room full of shoes. The wall said something along the lines of, We are made of leather rather than flesh and blood and therefore were spared from the Hellfire. It was a really powerful image combined with an equally powerful quote and I was stunned. When we finally arrived on the final floor of the museum, the aftermath was spelled out. Those who were freed were in dire need of medical help and had nowhere to go. Their homes and businesses were destroyed, they had no money, and many were separated from loved ones. The Nazi party killed roughly 6 million Jews throughout Europe. There was a wall full of names on the last floor of the tour which had on it the names of many of the people who risked their lives to rescue the Jewish people from this genocide. Reading Pope John Paul IIs We Remember in the last part of the exhibit was really powerful. It brought a lot of emotion to the three of us. (I figured they should read it too.) The part that really struck me from the letter was, Jewish minority was sometimes taken as a scapegoat and became the victim of violence, looting, even massacres. He was saying that the Jews were often blamed for things that they had no connection or fault in and were punished as if things were their fault. The fact that they were almost completely wiped out of Europe because one man convinced a nation to believe that the Jews were a lesser race and were to be feared is absolutely appalling. People need to learn from this despite the terribleness of the event. If we dont learn from it and keep genocide from occurring to any race, those people will have died in vain. We have to protect life and accept people and that their beliefs may be different from ours. Overall my experience at the Holocaust museum last week was a good one. I was there with two of the people I love most in the world learning about my history and getting a whole new perspective on a subject in which I thought I was already pretty well versed in. Not many people actually know that my mom and grandma are Jewish because I havent decided what I believe in yet. Im not very comfortable with people knowing it yet because of the stereotypical things that people assume when you say that youre Jewish, but I am proud of it and eventually when/if I decide what I believe, Ill tell anyone who will listen.