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Holocaust Musuem is well worth visiting

By by dianna wray/dwray@vicad.com
Aug. 3, 2011 at 3:03 a.m.


The Holocaust has always bothered me. Of course, "bothered me" is a grotesque understatement, but I'm not entirely sure there are words to cover how I feel about a time when millions of people were persecuted and killed for what they were.

I've always loved history, and, as a kid, I read "The Diary of Anne Frank," and I looked at pictures in dry history textbooks.

They described evil I couldn't comprehend. It was too big to grasp, and the horror of what went on, of what people were capable of, was something I instinctively shied away from.

The Holocaust Museum of Houston has been open for years, but I avoided going. I didn't want to understand what evil really looked like, so I stayed away from it.

It wasn't until I was saw "Schindler's List" - yes, it took Hollywood to get me to pay attention - that I began to understand it, got the faintest glimmer of what it really meant.

I watched Liam Neeson, as Oskar Schindler, a man who saved more than 1,000 Polish-Jewish refugees, burst into tears, tearing the Nazi party pin from the lapel of his suit and gasping about how he could have saved two more lives by selling this pin. His agony in that moment, when a man who saved so many was shown heartbroken over not trying to save more, lodged in my emotional gut.

Men and women could be angels or monsters, could do unimaginable things to each other, or risk everything to save a life - the most ordinary-looking people were, flawed, fallible and human, were capable of infinite good and evil.

I was finally willing to look at the Holocaust, to go to museums and face the horrible things that happened decades ago. To my surprise, in the midst of so much tragedy and wasted human life, there were tremendous things. I won't even go into them here, but, if you've been avoiding the Holocaust Museum the way I did, step past it and go take in the stories contained in those walls. Life is full of ugly, horrible things, but even in the darkest places, there is hope.

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