The Museum of Memory and Tolerance (Museo Memoria Y Tolerancia) in Mexico City has a purpose and that purpose is to create tolerance of fellow human beings through the process of keeping in memory the genocide of people for on one aspect of their entire being. A large portion of the museum focuses on the genocide of the Jews, the disabled, the homosexuals, the Gypsies, and the Jehovah Witnesses by Hitler (aka the Holocaust).
(I didn't know that Jehovah Witness' were targets. We later found out that it was because they refused to join the Nazis. They would not take up arms and fight. If you were not for Hitler, you were against him and therefore your only worth came from being killed.)
It was interesting to see such a museum in Mexico City. According to their website they really wanted a place where the youth of their country could come for dialogue, reflection and participation. They want to keep the memory alive of those who died for no reason and with that memory build a nation of tolerance.
They have English audio guides, which is good, because everything is in Spanish. You really do need the audio guides, they contain a wealth of information that you just can't get walking through the museum and looking at the pictures.
The museum starts in a room overlooking Juarez plaza. The audio guide gives a definition of genocide and why the museum exists.
Then you start the actual tour. The first part of the museum and the largest is dedicated to the Holocaust. It is very informative and interesting. The first room was filled with pictures from floor to ceiling of Jewish people. It told how they were ordinary people living amongst the rest of the world in peace until the reign of Hitler.
One of the pictures showed Anne Frank. There was also a picture of Albert Einstein among the hundreds of others.
The next room told of how the rest of the world was starting to see Hitler. It showed a newspaper article from Mexico declaring Hitler a dictator.
Another room showed how Hitler started measuring people, trying to find the perfect measurements for the perfect race.
It went on to show the propaganda that Hitler and his regime force fed the public. Joseph Goebbels was the Minister of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, in other words, he controlled everything the people heard, saw, or read.
He is often quoted as saying, “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it."
And man, did he do that! This is just one example of an advertisement put out by the Nazis. Here we see that a healthy family of five uses the same amount of money as one disabled person. It is basically saying that disabled people take up taxes and resources that should go to you and your family therefore let's get rid of the disabled.
Jews and others being persecuted were desperate to save their children, to get them out of harm's way. Some even elected to send their children to different countries in the hopes that when the war was over they would somehow find a way to reunite with them. It was called the Kindertransport program.
There was a film showing crying mothers handing over their babies to people on planes. The planes then flew off with their babies to England where someone had promised to care for them until the parents could get them. Often, the child was the only member of the family to survive.
I couldn't even imagine.
I have seen many yellow Star of Davids in museums that the Jewish people had to wear on their clothing. There were examples of those at the museum as well.
But there was one thing there that I have never seen and that was an entire sheet of the yellow stars.
One of the most eye opening displays to me was the actual train car they have on sight. This is one of the many train cars that carried so many undeserving people to their deaths.
I was able to walk up in it. I listened to the audio guide tell me about how many people were crammed in there and the conditions that the people had to endure. These were people just like you and me. They were successful before all this started. They had luxuries just like you and I do. They mostly hadn't seen truly bad times in their lives. All of that was taken away from them and they were put in train cars not knowing where they were going or what would happen to them. They were separated from their family. They watched in horror as loved ones were killed right in front of them.
It is a REALLY good museum. The layout is thought out. The topic is well researched. It is a great museum, BUT by the time you get to the section on concentration camps you are feeling the pangs of depression. The Jews and the other people who were called out by Hitler have been through all this torture and then they go to the concentration camps.
In one example the museum showed the people arriving at one of the camps. They had been told this was a work camp. Technically it was but only for the ones who could work. They were separated, healthy men this way all others down a flight of stairs. Those stairs, led to gas chambers.
Before concentration camps and gas chambers they had squads of men go round up Jewish people. Those Jews had to dig a ditch, then they all lined up at the edge of that ditch and then were shot and killed. All the Nazis had to do after that was throw the dirt back on the bodies that fell into the ditch when they died.
Hitler didn't find this method efficient enough so the plan of gas chambers was executed.
It allowed hundreds of people to be killed and only two Nazis to do it.
Those that worked received some form of clothing and just enough food to keep them semi-alive.
This picture was actually of the clothing the Jews were given. Since it was behind glass it was catching the reflection of a picture of some men on the other side of the hallway in their clothing. I liked the way the photo I took turned out.
Seriously, by the time we were through the Holocaust we just needed to sit and take a break. I needed to see blue sky and people walking about. I needed to know that this particular episode was in the past.
But we were not done. The museum then goes into genocides that have happened around the world since the Holocaust. There were sections for Armenia, the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Cambodia, Guatemala, Sudan, and Darfur. They are going to have to extend the museum so they can add in Iraq, South Sudan, Nigeria, Israel, Palestine, and on and on the list goes!
I question and so did the museum. When does it stop?
After going through the memory section of the museum you head towards the tolerance part. You see a large cube with an oak tree carved in it. Oak trees are strong and stand through even the worst storms. They also have come to symbolize wisdom. The carved oak tree was between the two section of memory and tolerance for the symbols it stands for.
We ended up going through the section on tolerance very quickly. We had been in the museum for two hours already and honestly, the Holocaust section, while extremely good, is mentally exhausting. Because of this I am just going to share two of the things I liked the best from this section.
The word tolerance in many languages. The museum wanted to show that tolerance is the war for a culture of peace. I may sound like a beauty pageant contestant but I really would love world peace! I don't understand why or how people can kill other people.
The other part that I liked was this display. It shows all different kinds of people but the one thing they all had in common was the fact that they were people. How can you hate someone for something they have no control over. I will never understand that.
Just in case you are depressed now too, I want to you leave you with a pretty photo from the museum. When you are going up the stairs from the memory section to the tolerance section there are these transparent beads/bubbles/stones hanging from the ceiling all the way down and then back to the wall. It creates the prettiest illusion. And now I am happy again.
My next post will be more chipper, I promise. I am going to tell you about the Metropolitan Cathedral, the largest cathedral in all of the Americas!
So until then!