El Paso Holocaust Museum

The Holocaust was one of the most tragic pages in the history of Jewish people as well as the entire world because it was the genocide of Jewish people which could not be justified by any reason. At the same time, it is important to keep the tragedy of the Holocaust in minds and hearts of the modern people, who live in the society, where the Holocaust seems to be absolutely improbable and savage. Nevertheless, if people forget the terrible lesson they have learned during the Holocaust, they are likely to repeat the tragedy that occurred about half a century ago. In this respect, exhibitions reminding people about tragic events, which occurred during World War II and which were later defined as Holocaust, are particularly important. At any rate, on visiting the El Paso Holocaust Museum I have changed consistently my attitude to the Holocaust because, when I saw exhibits describing in details the horrors of the Holocaust, I grew conscious of the fact that the Holocaust was not just a terrible part of the past, but it was a tragic part of the life of ordinary people just like me, my family, friends and other people, who lived a normal life, but became victims of the dehumanized regime and racist ideology.

The El Paso Holocaust Museum exhibits numerous evidences of the crime of the Nazi regime during World War II and reveals the full tragedy of the Holocaust. In this respect, the permanent exhibit of the El Paso Holocaust and the Study Center’s permanent exhibit photos created by graphic designer Victor Mireles. The exhibit contains stunning graphics and displays which are dedicated to Holocaust and raise crimes committed by the Nazi and their supporters during World War II. To put it more precisely, the exhibit contains photos of victims of the Holocaust who were slaughter by the Nazi. When you look at these images you can hardly keep from being shocked and terrified with the horrors of the Holocaust. The exhibit has a specific lightening in which dark, blue and red colors prevail. In such a way, the entire exposition creates a gloomy impression that is constantly pressing on the visitors and enforces the general impression from the exhibit and images depicting sufferings and death of Jews slaughtered during the Holocaust.  At the same time, along with images there are decorations, such as doors with the word “Jude” written on the door, which vividly conveys the atmosphere of the epoch of the Holocaust. While attending the exhibition, visitors feel as if they are in a ghetto and it seems as if there is a different, dangerous world inside. The realism of the exhibition makes visitors terrified and they feel being a part of the environment which depicts the atmosphere of ethnic purges and terror.

Another noteworthy exhibition was “Besa: A Code of Honor”, which uncovers a different side of Holocaust. Unlike the exhibition discussed above, “Besa: A Code of Honor” does not focus entirely on horrors of the Holocaust and depiction of the atmosphere in which Jewish people lived and died during World War II. In fact, “Besa: A Code of Honor” is the exhibit with black-and-white photographs made by Norman Gershman. These photos uncover a different side of the Holocaust, they show the salvation of Jews by non-Jewish people. Remarkably, photos showcase Muslim Albanians who saved Jews during the Holocaust. This fact seems to be particularly noteworthy for me because, traditionally, Muslims and Jews are viewed as enemies who are constantly struggling against each other. In such a context, it seems to be unthinkable that enemies can help each other. However, photos made by Norman Gershman prove that even the most severe enemies can stay human in the dehumanized world. Ordinary people readily forget ideological or religious differences when the life of other people is under a threat. This is why Muslim Albanians risked with their lives to save lives of Jewish people during the Holocaust. In such a way, the Holocaust was not just the epoch of the terror and murder but it was also the epoch of the mutual forgiveness for the sake of salvation of the life of ordinary people, regardless of their ethnic origin or religious views.

Finally, it is worth mentioning the fact that the El Paso Holocaust Museum organized the Summer Camp 2009. This was a very important event because the Summer Camp 2009 taught children tolerance and debunked racial prejudices and biases, while the example of the Holocaust was used to show the tragic outcomes of racist policies and genocide which aim at the extinction of certain ethnic or racial groups.

Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is possible to conclude that the El Paso Holocaust Museum helps visitors to understand the full tragedy of the Holocaust. At the same time, the museum does not simply narrates the history of Holocaust, but it shows factual evidences of terrors of the Holocaust and, what is more, the museum attempts to prevent the repetition of such tragedies in the future encouraging tolerance in visitors.

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