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Remembering the Holocaust one scrap at a time

For its 20th birthday this year, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum went on “tour” – its word, not mine.  In New York, at a Hilton Hotel, 2,000 people stopped by, 200 of them Holocaust survivors. The survivors wore badges that said “SURVIVOR” in orange letters; they were honored with a noon tribute.  Some put pins in a corkboard map to show where they were at the war’s end – one pierced the border of then-Russia and Afghanistan – and others left their coordinates in a guest book. “Ashwitz – good to be alive.” “In Limoges, France, convent Notre Dame de Nazareth.”  “In the field Fel de Fink – aboard train, after 7 camps @ age 17!!”

The “tour” seems to have a mix of motives – educational, affirmational, memorial.  The museum offers a day of public programming on various historical aspects of the Holocaust and an interactive “family” section where young people can express the meaning and values of tolerance. But the most museum-like aspect is archival: Curators have been lining up appointments in five cities – Los Angeles, New York, Washington, Chicago and Boca Raton, Fla. – and evaluating survivors and veterans’ relics and listening to their stories.

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