Our Last Day in Washington, D.C.

The Holocaust Museum

Holocaust Museum Entrance

Upon entry, we were given small identity cards: mine from the women’s section, Bruce’s from the men’s. These each bore a photo and limited biography of an actual person who had gone through the holocaust, making this horrific, historic nightmare more immediate, more personal.

We had seen ‘Shoah’, innumerable documentaries, movies, had studied, read, and tried to fathom this monstrous thing.

There. Are. No. Words.

A visit here will change you. It will raise more questions than answers: about what it is to be human, humane, or hateful. It is a long, hard, exhibition, dense in films, recordings, writings and images: all gray, charcoal, and black and white, relieved only by the red of Nazi flags, the red-orange of the maps showing the advancing Nazi occupation of Europe.

Exterior Courtyard & Entry Hall

This museum is brilliant and terrible, and I’m glad my humanity made me go: to learn, to listen: to hear what so many people struggled to somehow survive so that they could bear witness.

At the end of the museum, a study section is focused on current, on-going campaigns of genocide. The lessons have not yet been learned. (Once again, photos were not allowed).

The Sackler and the African

The Smithsonian Castle

We emerged from the Holocaust museum at almost 4:00! We walked back to the two small Smithsonian museums, practicing a sort of cultural triage, first through the Sackler Museum of Asian Art and then passing underground to the African Museum, where the most engaging exhibit was by two contemporary African artists who installed in a sort of dialogue. (unfortunately photography wasn’t allowed.)  The warmth and great creativity of the work was a welcomed counterbalance to the earlier part of the day, and when we left at 5:30, we felt like we’d absorbed all we could from D.C. for this season. We hope to return for more in the future.

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