Holocaust Memorial Museums around the World

Holocaust Museum Reviews

Located just off the National Mall, this memorial and museum strives to teach people about the unimaginable tragedy, advancing research, and keeping the memory alive. It also works to awaken the conscience, and seeks to prevent contemporary acts of genocide by educating citizens about their responsibilities.

You see photos of prisoners strangled in toilets and piles of skeletal corpses bulldozed after typhus epidemics. It’s hard to walk away.

The Holocaust Museum

The museum is a powerful teaching tool with historical photographs, maps, artifacts and eyewitness testimony. Its permanent exhibition, The Holocaust, takes visitors through a chronological narrative of Hitler’s rise and the Nazi assault on Europe that led to the deaths of millions of Jews, as well as Romani, gay men and women, Jehovah’s Witnesses, political prisoners, the mentally ill, and others.

Whether you are standing at the reproduction of a gate at Birkenau or staring at a diorama of Crematorium II, with its table where gold teeth were pulled, it is impossible to imagine the enormity of what took place in these death camps and the millions who died there.

Founded by an act of Congress, the Museum’s mission is to advance and disseminate knowledge about the Holocaust and its history, preserve and share its collections, and encourage thoughtful reflection on its lessons for humanity. It achieves this through exhibitions, research and publication, education, community outreach, including its annual Days of Remembrance commemorations, and public programming.

The Memorial de la Shoah

The Memorial de la Shoah (or Holocaust Museum) is located in Paris and mainly tells the story of 76,000 French Jews who were forced to leave France by the collaborating Vichy government during WWII, a majority of whom died at Auschwitz. It features a multitude of documents that combine collective and individual history (texts, photographs, objects and recorded testimonies).

The Museum is open to everyone and has a variety of resources for teachers and students. It also hosts training sessions to prevent racism and anti-Semitism. The Memorial also presents temporary exhibitions and a multimedia learning center.

The Museum can be visited independently, but is a frequent stop on Jewish-themed tours of the city’s Marais district. Children are welcome, but some texts and images may be upsetting. For younger visitors, the Museum has created a booklet for them to guide them through the permanent exhibition, which steers them away from some of the more shocking materials.

The Warsaw Ghetto Museum

In World War Two, the Germans bricked up a district of the city, populated solely by Jews, into an urban ghetto. The inhabitants lived with hunger, disease and constant threats of deportation to Nazi death camps. But a small group of insurgents, using improvised weapons, led a desperate, ultimately doomed uprising against the Germans.

The museum’s galleries, archives and personal accounts give an insight into what life was like in the ghetto. It also displays photos of the ghetto during its liquidation by SS troops, showing both suffering and resourcefulness.

Despite its size, Polin is not an overpowering building to look at. Its stone facade blends in with the city’s Soviet-era aesthetic, but inside the space is vast and light-drenched. The main hall is bisected by a river of glass that extends from floor to ceiling on both sides, symbolising the parting of the Red Sea in Exodus. Almost every element of the design has a purpose.

The Museum of Jewish Heritage

At the southernmost tip of Manhattan, where the Statue of Liberty lifts her lamp and Ellis Island marks the entryway for millions of immigrants, the Museum of Jewish Heritage completes the city’s cultural and educational landscape. Inside, the exhibitions range from ceremonial objects (including a collection of artifacts that were looted during the Holocaust) to contemporary works by artists such as Alex Israel and Maira Kalman to an extensive archive of broadcast media.

The Museum’s Core Exhibition presents the broad tapestry of Jewish history. It tells the stories of the past century through three chronological chapters—Jewish Life A Century Ago, The War Against the Jews, and Jewish Renewal.

A new wing of the museum houses an immersive experience for children called Courage to Act, which seeks to help students ages 9 and up understand the dangers of prejudice and their own potential for courageous collective action. The exhibit features holographic narrators and Discovery Walls that allow visitors to step into scenes from 1943.

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