Holocaust Museum At 20: Looking Back And Forward

4:52 PM, Apr 29, 2013   |    comments
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WASHINGTON (WUSA) -- For 20 years now, the US Holocaust Memorial Museum has reminded us of the human race's capacity for evil: Germany, Poland...later, Rwanda, Kosovo...and today, in some ways, Syria.

There's an urgency in the remembrance. Time is running down for those who were there. The museum commemorated this it's 20th anniversary, because no one is sure how many of the survivors, the liberators, the rescuers will live to see the 25th.

"We lost whole families. My family, eight children, two of us survived. Aunts, uncles, grandchildren, nobody came home," said survivor Rose Schindler. "The worst thing I saw? I saw dead bodies, and I took the clothes off them, because I was freezing," said David Bayer. The Nazis him to a concentration camp at 16. He is now 90. "I made it because I didn't want to give in. I wanted to run. I wanted to fight."

They were taken in rail cars, they left behind their shoes. "We got into Dachau, they were all barefoot," said Alan Lukens, who helped liberate one of the camps, as he looked at a gallery at the museum littered with thousands of shoes of the dead.

Millions of mothers, fathers, children and grandchildren, were murdered in gas chambers, in ditches, some set afire. Their names stolen, replaced by tattooed numbers.

The museum helps us look back -- and forward. To remember... and to do what we can to prevent the next holocaust.

"What about Syria?" I asked former President Bill Clinton, who spoke at the ceremony. He offered no answer.

Our leaders still face tough choices. In Syria, a dictator again murders his people. And our government is unsure what to do. "We should do something, but we don't want another war," said survivor Max Schindler. "People have not learned, the world has not learned," said his wife, Rose, who is also a survivor.

So we have to remember.

The museum is also trying to raise $540-million in the next five years to keep the memory of the Holocaust alive -- and to fight anti-Semitism, Holocaust denial, and genocide.

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