Oct 10, 2011 selection from the holocost musem

I have been to the U.S. Holocaust Museum this morning, and share the following selection that I read there–in what I think is the most powerful of all the exhibits. -ed.

We are the shoes, we are the last witnesses.
We are shoes from grandchildren and grandfathers
From Prague, Paris and Amsterdam,
And because we are only made of fabric and leather
And not of blood and flesh,
Each one of us avoided the hellfire.

– Moshe Szulsztein

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One response to “Oct 10, 2011 selection from the holocost musem

  1. And a comment from readers at the original time of this poem’s sending, which I feel adds to understanding this selection:
    “Thank you so much for sending this. I have this quote on my frig and read it all the time. There is something about the room filled with shoes at the museum that is chilling. The shoes smell and whenever I am there I always wonder how long the odor will last. It is a olfactory shock–a reminder of how close we are in time to the most horrific act humans have ever committed.

    In Budapest, there is a monument to the Jews of Hungary that died in the Holocaust–it is simply sculpted shoes along the side of the Danube. Next to the shoes there are plaques in Hebrew, English and Hungarian that read “To the memory of the victims shot into the Danube by Arrow Cross militiamen in 1944–45. Erected 16 April 2005.” It is a strange form of denial on the part of the Hungarians. The only way one would infer that those shot were Jews is by knowing that one plaque is written in Hebrew. The memorial is gray and the Danube is cold. The subtext of the memorial is very clear. Hungary has not fully owned its own role in the Holocaust. Hungarians Christians shot their fellow Jewish countrymen and women into the Danube. All that remained on the embankment were their shoes.”

    (and later, this)
    “Also, this memorial is just one part of a endemic problem of Holocaust denial in Hungary. In many post-Soviet Bloc countries there is a deep struggle to own responsibility for the Holocaust. I was in Hungary working with educators from across Europe a few years ago on how to teach genocide in post conflict zones. In some ways, Hungary was a rather appropriate setting. There is a Holocaust museum in Budapest which is excellent, but down the street Jewish and Roma history is virtually absent from the Hungarian history museum. When I was able to speak with one of the head curators about this his reply was chilling. He said “this is the Hungarian history museum, the Holocaust museum is down the street.” Jews had lived in Hungary for over five hundred years at the time of the Holocaust. “

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