Last month, the museum marked Holocaust Memorial Day. During the week, we shared blogs from our volunteers Susan, Kate and Jessica, all of who felt moved to put their thoughts into writing.
In the museum itself, we had a display to mark the day. It presented materials provided by the Holocaust Memorial Trust, to allow our visitors to engage with the history of genocide, to understand the Holocaust and the genocides which have happened since. We also asked them two important questions: How can life go on? And what can we learn from history?
In response, staff, volunteers and visitors wrote their thoughts on candle flames – flames of hope – which became part of the display. To conclude the series of blogs, here are the thoughts expressed on those flames of hope:
If the Nazis had finished their work, I’d never have existed. Let us always remember how lucky we are to be safe, to be alive and to make sure all are protected from genocide and racial violence.
I hope future generations can learn from the mistakes of past generations to make the world a better place.
We are at a point where a generation is nearly gone that lived through the worst nightmare imaginable to mankind, we must not forget, as to forget the past we risk repeating the horrors and this day and age, I worry my children or even one day my children’s children will have to pick a side, I do not ever want this to happen. So we must remember no matter how horrid, how morbid. We have to remember. Let we forget.
It’s important that we remember how easily hatred can triumph. We must always be vigilant, we must always love more than hate.
For many, life doesn’t go on. But hope remains. Love is always possible. For survivors, compassion, and a promise that we will learn, be educated and work hard.
I hope that future generations can learn about the mistakes of the past and never make the same mistakes again.
Hope springs eternal in a young man’s breast.
Let’s never forget the lessons of the past as we move forward into the future.
By remembering the Holocaust, we remember those who were lost to a madman, we remember the lives of the families destroyed. We remember the traditions forgotten. But if we allowed ourselves to forget, we would allow ourselves to return to this pain and suffering and we can NOT allow that.
These are the words of our staff and volunteers, of our visitors. For those of us who work in, volunteer in, museums and heritage sites, the past is close to us, always relevant, always important. Our business, our mission, is to engage our visitors with that past. The point, so important when we remember the Holocaust, is that the past isn’t really so far away. History is a continuum. Even as the genocide which took place in the Second World War – The Holocaust – passes from living memory we remember other genocides, more recent. Lessons that were not learned.
We are often, in museums, forced to prove the relevance of history in today’s world. The Holocaust should touch us all, remind us all, of how easily humanity can fall, how easily hatred can triumph. How easily people can be persuaded to perpetrate evil, but how many will also turn a blind eye. That genocide has been a feature of human history since the liberation of the camps in 1945 should be remarkable. How can the world not have learned from that?
We must keep remembering, keep learning. Because life does go on, even if it seems hard to imagine how it can. Humanity continues on, events slip from collective memory. We imagine ourselves distant from those people in the past who did these unspeakable things. But they were people too.
History remains relevant in many ways, reflecting aspects of our own lives. Museums curate the stories they tell carefully to reflect the history they feel is important. At Erewash Museum we felt this act of remembrance was important and relevant to every single member of our team, and every single visitor. We should all learn the lessons of history and make sure these events remain distant, fading into the past.
Thank you to all who took part in our Holocaust Memorial Day projects.