Its a little hazy this morning...while the weatherman says we might get some snow flurries,I am thinking we'll will not be any part of that...just another mild-ish winter day here in SE Michigan.
Pretty excited that I have gotten my 5th person to follow this here blog. Growing pains are the roughest part of getting a good blog off the ground. But I know its working because of all the visitors from all over. Some folks I know are reading this because I recognize the towns on the list (hello Chris,Kerri,Michelle) and of course I am reading the feedback on the original IC page as well. Thank you all!
Yesterday Lori and I went to the Holocaust Memorial Center in Farmington. We have often passed it while on different outings and had always wanted to check it out but the subject matter had really sort of stopped us. Unlike going to a art museum where is there beauty and brightness,we knew what was in the Holocaust museum would be anything but beautiful and colorful.
How did the Holocaust Memorial come about? This is from the HMC's website,I'll be posting the link at the bottom of the entry.
The Holocaust Memorial Center (HMC), the first freestanding institution of its kind in the United States, was the fulfillment of a dream nurtured by Founder and Executive Vice President Rabbi Charles H. Rosenzveig and embraced by his fellow members of Shaarit Haplaytah ("the Remnant," survivors of the Holocaust). It was first proposed twenty years before its construction. Through two decades of planning, community support grew, and the Center’s objectives expanded beyond simply creating a memorial.
Ground was broken for the Holocaust Memorial Center on the property of the Jewish Community Campus at Maple and Drake Roads in West Bloomfield, Michigan, on December 6, 1981. Almost three years later, in October 1984, the Holocaust Memorial Center was dedicated and opened.
The exhibits, at this location, were designed by internationally known museum designer James Gardner of London, England. He also created the Museum of the Diaspora in Tel Aviv. Gardner brought together the finest artwork and modern technology to create a facility that was, at the time, unmatched anywhere in the world. Through audio and video displays, the visitor could see the Holocaust as never before.
We had made plans to see the museum last week and normally when we go out on this type of outing,we get up early and go. There is a sense of excitement but I'm going to be honest here,we dragged our feet yesterday. We really want to go but the sadness knowing what was behind those walls was daunting to face.
We had our family meeting,breakfast and then ran a couple of errands before finally heading over to Farmington.
We got there at 11:30 am. The parking lot was pretty empty as we pulled in. As we parked,we saw what the new piece of history that the HMC had received that made me want to come. The museum had gotten a boxcar that had been used by the SS during the war. The boxcar was sitting outside in a small display,the museum had yet to formally set up a proper display but just seeing it was sobering enough.
We walked in and paid our admission just as a small group of kids were leaving. The two guards who acted as admissions clerks were very professional and respectful.
The building outside is different then from any museum you'll ever see. Its a two story building and when you drive by you'll see it looks like its wrapped in barb-wire,a symbol of the concentration and death camps that the Jewish people endured.
Sadly,they had a "no cameras" policy so I am unable to post anything inside of the Center but then again,I don't think I would because its a museum you and your family need to see in person.
We started our self-tour reading about the history,traditions and artifacts about Jewish life. There was a massive timeline on a wall with important events both in the Jewish world and the rest of world. We saw that Germany was by no means the only country to attack the Jews,anti-semantic actions have been conducted against the Jews by other European countries as well as the United States.
After reading the timeline,we started looking at the artifacts of the Jewish faith and were working towards the contributions that the Jewish people have made here in America.
We were interrupted by a guide who asked if we wanted to take part in a guided tour,we said yes and joined about 15 other folks in a large room.
The speaker told us about the background of the HMC. It cost 17 million to build the center and its all privately funded. One very gracious man donated 10 million himself make sure future generations see what so many people went through just because of who they are.
The tour started with display on a wall of all the camps and the countries where Hitler had the Jews killed.
Hitler killed over 12 million people in the Holocaust,6.3 millions were Jews. I had never seen the national breakdown of how many Jews were killed by country but the research of the HMC now showed that.
3 million Polish Jews were killed by the SS in Poland and Russia suffered 1.5 Million dead.
Other counties also suffered greatly while some,like the Jews in Africa,only had 526 killed. A African-American lady asked why only 500 were killed,the guide said that when Hitler asked the King of Morocco to send Germany their Jews,the king said,"We have no Jews here,only the people of Morocco",thus saving countless lives.
And there was another reason as well...the German Army of North Africa was very small and the Germans were having a devil of a time just trying to get supplies to Edwin Rommel. The Royal Navy and Air Force were playing havoc with German and Italian shipping and they just couldn't afford to waste any resources shipping anything but military aid. Of course we didn't know this until after Germany was defeated.
The speaker then took us back where Lori and I first started and we decided to leave the little tour and forge ahead. We went back to where we were,turned a corner and were greeted by the horror that was the Holocaust. Its times like this that you really have to fight for the right words to describe what you are looking at. And I don't know if I'm that writer......
It starts with a timeline of Hitler and the rise of the Nazi Party,how they gained power by blaming their problems on the Jew,homosexual and the "sub-human"Slav races. The rise of anti-semantic attacks increased,book burnings,people being driven from their homes,The Night of the Broken Glass on 25 Nov 1938. Of course they have pictures and displays of these events.
You can see the other major events that took place leading up to start of war in Poland in 1939. After that you see the pictures of the Jews being herded into boxcars,sometimes they were just shot dead. You get the very uncomfortable feeling that those poor souls were actually the lucky ones.
The rest were marched into camps and either killed by gunshot,gas or worked/starved to death. So many terrible times were done. There was a story of how the striped PJs that the prisoners were forced to wear were often re-used time and again after the original owner was killed.
Lori has actually been to Dachau and she said one of her strongest memories that her tour guide shared was that before the Jews were put into the gas chambers,they were told to take off their shoes and that when the Allies liberated those camps,they found a big room filled to ceiling with pairs of shoes.
They had a section that included the Warsaw Uprising...this brought tears to my eyes because my old friend and boss Jacek Rosicki lost members of his family during this time. They actually visited the area when they were on vacation and his wife Ann wrote me and told me how moving and haunting it was.
I had never even known that in all the years I had known Jacek,he had been affected by this terrible event.The further you went into the center,the darker it got...and they had made a gate to Auschwitz so you felt like you were entering it...and they also had a replica of that boxcar where you could just imagine being stuffed in it with hundreds of others and then stepping out to be met by the SS guards.
You can't help get a sick feeling in your stomach and thinking how today we are marching towards the same thing with the NDAA and Patriot Acts being put into play. And the new internet,cameras and allowing UAV to fly overhead and yes,Renee,I can see and understand your fears and concerns.
As were finished our tour,we were encouraged to hear a Holocaust survivor speak. It was a woman who lived outside Minsk in Belorussia was only 5 years old but remembered everything. Her accent was very heavy and she was very hard to understand at first but as she went on,she got stronger as she recounted her sad story.
She lost a aunt,a brother and a father. Her brother was only 12 years old when he was killed trying to sneak some extra food back to the family and her aunt was killed for breaking curfew by 10 minutes. Both were shot dead and their bodies burned. She spoke for about 30 minutes and you could have heard a pin drop in the room.
She was gracious enough to answer questions and since the museum closes at 3 pm on Friday,we had to go since it was now 3:30 pm.
The Jewish people have a saying in regarding the Holocaust and its one that we Americans would be remember,"Never Forget".
Because if we do....it can happen again and it can happen to us.
I like to say goodbye to real legend....a voice and a life that was cut down way to soon. A person who brought great joy with their gift,who gave so much to their craft and was still doing so when they passed on.
And hell no,it sure ain't Whitney Houston.....
Its Gary Carter,who played baseball for the Montreal Expos,the San Francisco Giants and of course a member of the mighty 1986 New York Mets team who beat the Boston Red Sox.
I loved watching Gary Carter play,other then Thurman Munson,Carter was my favorite catcher when he played BECAUSE of the play he loved the game.
Despite playing in that hellhole called the Montreal Expos,he gave them his best for 10 years. After that,he moved on to the Mets ,which he helped lead to that championship in '86.
Gary was a 11 time All-Star,twice winning the MVP Award in that game,he won 3 Gold Gloves and 5 Silver Slugger awards and hit 324 homers in a 21 year career. And 2003,Gary was elected into the Hall of Fame. Soon after that he moved into coaching. After coaching in the minor league ranks for many years,Gary decided to take the head coaching job at a small Division II school,Palm Beach Atlantic.
Last May,it was discovered that Gary had developed a stage IV brain cancer and it was inoperable. Despite that,Gary fought on and managed to coach his school's Opening Day this year before dying peacefully at 57 years old.
Its sorta of pathetic that while Gary did it the right way....no flag will be lowered at half staff (and I do believe he wouldn't had wanted that anyways),no live coverage of his funeral,no cover of Sports Illustrated will remember Gary Carter. We,who honor a drug addicted singer who hadn't done anything to help anyone including her own daughter,is having two hour specials on her life and unending media coverage,while a true man of the people,who loved a simple game so much he was nicknamed "The Kid",is gone with almost nary a peep. Shame on us.
Thank you Gary Carter....thank you for all the great memories and of course,thank you for beating those damned Red Sox!!
To learn more about the Holocaust Memorial Center:
Okay,that is all I got for now.....thanks for reading!
bear- Thank you for your prayers,you know we adore you very much!
Jacek and Ann- thank you for letting me share my feelings about your trip.
Amy - hope you are home today rather then tomorrow,hospitals are no fun!
Brad,Slade and Tom - I hope I did Gary proud.