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Remembering Holocaust Victims

On the final day of our visit to London, we started our activities for the day with a morning visit to the Imperial War Museum. Our guide went over a lot of very interesting information as we looked at all the various pieces of historical vehicles and equipment used throughout the war, but the part of the museum that resonated with me the most was something that I only visited after we broke away from our guide: the Holocaust Exhibition. I only had around twenty minutes to go through it during our visit, but even that amount of time was enough for it to leave an impact on me. In that initial visit, the two things that have stayed in my mind were the sections focusing on the history of antisemitism in Europe and the “undesirable” children killed in Nazi Germany. I had known many of the historic antisemitic events such as the Spanish expulsion of the Jewish people before, but others such as the large Jewish community that had faced oppression in Poland-Lithuania had been completely unknown to me despite their significance. Similarly, it is hard not to talk about the Nazis without a discussion of their eugenics programs, yet the scope of the actions of German doctors towards the children considered “undesirable” was harrowing to think about for a profession now known for their pledge to not harm patients.

When I returned to the exhibition during my free time later in the day, I realized that what drew me back were all of the victims described throughout the exhibition. These descriptions ranged from personal accounts to third-person stories, but regardless of what form they came in I felt obligated to read as many of them as I could. Many of the monuments and museums that we have visited have to focus on such large groups that addressing individuals does not seem feasible. The same could be said of this exhibition, yet there were still spaces dedicated through most of the sections to the victims. I have no lack of respect for the other places of memory that we have visited, but the Holocaust Exhibition at the Imperial War Museum has affected me so strongly because it feels like a place where some small number of the victims can still be remembered as the people they were rather than numbers within the mass.