JHU Seminar: 3/29/2017 The Holocaust Museum

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It has been years since I last visited the Holocaust museum. It is an amazing museum, and important to visit, but it is a bit heavy, to say the least.

Yet in our discussion with the curators from the museum, they made me realize that the Holocaust museum is continuing a trend that we have noticed throughout this course. First…”it’s complicated.”

This is a bit self-evident when dealing a topic as big and complex as the Holocaust, but to add a little bit of nuance, the museum is much more interested in getting the visitor to consider uncomfortable questions then providing solid answers.

The museum asks the visitor, “What sort of choices would you have made in this situation?” We all want to think of ourselves as the heroes, but part of us knows that likly we would not rise to the occasion and merely take the path of least resistance.

The museum does an amazing job of sheering away the “black” and “white” and makes you dwell in the gray. It is both an uncomfortable place to be in and the place where deeper understanding lies.

Our guide pointed out that this picture, taken clandestinely showing the rounding up of Jews may sound like a small heroic act at first, but on the bottom left are two tea cups. The photographer was drinking tea at their window watching the local Jews be rounded up and taken to camps. That’s horrifying. It also illustrates that it is all shades of gray.

I made the point today that in video games (especially in the 90’s) every other game was based in Word War II, as there was no moral issue with killing wave after wave of faceless Nazis.  The museum works hard to tell us that the people that committed these atrocities were faceless characters but people, doing their job.

Once the caricature is removed, and the humanity is revealed, the Holocaust becomes all the more horrifying an event.

Again i was fascinated that VR is again a main area of discussion for future projects in the museum but again, given the museum, anything like that has to be done with the utmost care.

It is very very complicated.

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