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Illuminating the Past. Enlightening the Future.
Holocaust Memorial Center

Bob LevineThe exterior of the Holocaust Memorial Center is designed to be provocative. Its high brick walls fronted by concrete posts and twisted wire hint at the events whose memory is preserved within. About a dozen Elderwise members made the journey to Farmington Hills for a tour led by the knowledgeable Bob Levine. It started and ended at a flame kept perpetually burning in honor of more than six million Jews systematically exterminated during World War II. Bob guided us through exhibits highlighting the history of these peoples, their beliefs and customs, and their contributions to European culture. We then traveled along a dark descending ramp toward a looming image of Adolph Hitler, pausing along the way to review how his Nazi party consolidated power, launched a war even more catastrophic than the First World War, and used this war as cover for programs of mass murder.

Holocaust Rail CarIn the museum lobby we viewed one of the original rail cars in which 70-100 people were locked for as long as a week without food, water, heating, or sanitation while
being transported to death camps.

The exhibits ended with a note of optimism – a tribute to those who labored to rescue potential victims. Among them was University of Michigan graduate Raoul Wallenberg who used his family’s wealth and his position as a Swedish diplomat to save the lives of some 100,000 Hungarian Jews. A principal aim of the museum is to teach ethical conduct and show that the actions of individuals can make a difference.

Esther LupyanThe Detroit area is home to many holocaust survivors, although their numbers are dwindling. We spent some time with one of them, Esther Lupyan, who recounted her experiences as a young girl in Minsk, now the capital of Belarus, but then a Soviet city occupied by German troops. The Jewish inhabitants of Minsk,including members of her family, were victims of both Nazi genocide and Stalinist paranoia.

 

 

For more information on the Holocaust Center, please visit their website: http://www.holocaustcenter.org

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