A Visit with Kids to the Holocaust Museum—and Thinking About Parallels to Today

March 9, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


From Refuse Fascism activists:

With the emergence of a fascist Trump/Pence regime looming over the fate of humanity and our planet, we thought that it would be necessary and relevant to set out on a journey with our kids (ages 8-12) to the Holocaust Museum in Skokie, Illinois.

As we entered the building we had no idea what to expect, as it was our first time ever visiting. We were quickly greeted in the lobby and given a synopsis of what we should expect to find on each floor. We were even cautioned that the main exhibition floor may be too heavy and raw for our kids’ sensibilities. Yet, since we were on a mission to probe reality we decided to explore all the exhibitions together.

This museum really captures and powerfully illustrates the stages in the rise of Hitler and the Nazis through democratic means during the Weimar Republic, as well as the persecution and ultimate genocide of Jewish and other groups of people. We even learned that “the Nazis in 1933 were sensitive to public opinion. They did not want to push too far, too fast, or be perceived as lawless. Often after a flurry of activity, conditions stabilized briefly, giving hope that the worst had passed.”

We spent hours sifting through all the exhibitions, learning, contrasting, and wrangling over the similarities between the rise of Hitler and the Nazis with the rise of the fascist Trump/Pence regime. We even sat through the trial of Adolf Eichmann, a Nazi war criminal, who the kids quickly recognized as being indifferent and showing no remorse for crimes against humanity.

We finally made our way down to the cafeteria where we came upon Aaron Elster (who is a Holocaust survivor and the author of a book I Still See Her Haunting Eyes) giving a “sensitivity class” to the Chicago Police Department—which we thought was a bit of a contradiction given the fact that the CPD is one of the most brutal and murderous police forces in the country. We overheard him ask, “How can human beings be organized to unleash such horrors on other human beings?” And he proceeded to answer his own question with, “By the time we were rounded up and being sent off to death camps we were no longer considered human.”

As our journey was coming to an end, we saw Elster sitting at a table with a few copies of his book next to him. We decided that we couldn’t leave without at least getting a signed copy of his book and an opportunity to engage his thoughts. As he was signing our book, I asked him: How do we stop people in this country from making the same mistake as the “good Germans” did during the rise of Hitler and the Nazis? He looked up at me and acknowledged the NO! RefuseFascism button I was wearing, and responded energetically by saying, “We need to get Trump out of there!”

When we finally left, it was clear that the Trump/Pence regime will be a horror for humanity and our planet. And since this is fascism we are dealing with, we need to do everything we can to drive this regime out before it’s too late!


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