Holocaust Museum Field Trip

By: pbcmedia

Jun 12 2009

Tags: , , , , ,

Category: Holiday, Life, Personal, Photography, WW II


Focal Length:16mm
Shutter:1/0 sec
Camera:Canon EOS 5D

I can’t get it out of my mind.

Two of my grand nieces and nephews were on field trips the same day but their trips were not to the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC.

All, though, traveled by bus through the same forest of possibilities.  There are wolves knocking on our doors.  Big, bad wolves.

This one was 87 years old.  A man (I use the term generically) whose life is so profoundly pitiful and inadequate–and yet he has an opportunity to touch innocent souls as well as memory.  It  is unthinkable.  Jarring.  Disorienting.

But, it is human history.

Living history, now, in a place where already the smell of thousands of shoes discarded before entering the gas chambers still lingers in my  memory from my first visit back when it opened in 1993.

The museum’s website says since then nearly 8 million school children have visited.  Two million more than the 6 million exterminated in the Nazi concentration camps.

The majority of the concentration camp victims arrived by train with carefully organized schedules of transit and many signal crossings along the way through small villages throughout the countrysides surrounding the camps.  Signal crossings that required human hands to help them run smoothly.  This man would have been proud to delay other trains and wave through the train to Auschwitz.

An empty boxcar is a claustrophobic chilling exhibit in this museum as well.

The headlines are gone from the news this morning but I simply cannot get it out of my mind.

©Pat Coakley 2009


9 comments on “Holocaust Museum Field Trip”

  1. I’ve never had a chance to visit the museum. I hope to one day. Sad that I now feel I must wear Kevlar . . .

    • You know, Brian…that is the tragedy of this as well…the radiating fear that goes out about visiting this museum. Oh, this simply makes me crazy sad to think about.

  2. A fitting image to illustrate the world and “forest of possibilities” today’s children must find their way through. If it is jarring and disorienting for us old jaded souls, how must it be for them?

  3. jarring indeed too much so to be forgotten, it outrageously shocks and deposits to the terror bank already getting enough overfunding already and surely that is coldbloodedness to chill deeply for a long time

  4. It always strikes me as odd that some people think they are better than others just because they come a different background. The more I travel, the more I realise we are all basically the same.

    What strikes me as particularly sad and tragic in this affair is that someone at the end of their unfulfilled life has taken the life of someone who had so many years ahead of them.

    Such a miserable and spiteful act.

    Although I like your image, it looks too light and airy to illustrate such a fell deed.

    • Spiteful end..Razz, so true. But, he is still alive! 88 and shot and still living. We know it’s not heart that is bringing him through. You are probably right about the image being a bit too airy.

  5. Great writing Pat, and the sky in the photo looks positively shattered.

    • Thanks, Dave. I like the word “shattered” to describe this sky. As you know I take many many shots in motion but there was something about this combo of sky and motion that jumped out at me.

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