Our visit to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum in Israel, was an emotional and upsetting day. Although I have learned about the Holocaust my entire life, there were still many things I learned that day that shocked me, the things we discussed horrifying to imagine as a reality.
We walked through the museum in shocked silence. On display, there were the uniforms that were worn in the concentration camps, with their serial number emblazoned on their chest, all that they have been known as the rest of their lives. One room had a glass section running along the floor. When you walked over it, you would look down and see hundreds of burnt shoes below you, children’s shoes, adults’ shoes, scattered in heaping piles.
One thing that stuck out most in my mind was when we were told that the Nazis had been going around gathering Jewish “treasures”, menorahs for example, not in order to melt them down and rid the world of them, but to collect and later put on display. They wanted to make a museum about the race they had exterminated, like the way we would have a museum about dinosaurs. That thought, for whatever reason, stuck the most with me and still makes me shudder.
It was a difficult visit, a solemn experience. Many people cried. Nobody quite wanted it to end, but there was also a sense of relief when it was over. It was a tough day.