Monday, August 15, 2011

"Forgive but never forget."

There are several museums and memorial sites across the world that are intended to serve as a reminder of the Holocaust and the millions of victims. During our travels over the last few months we have been able to see three very touching sites.

The first was the Gestapo Prison in Cologne. From 1935-1945 this building was the Gestapo headquarters for the district of Cologne. The prison area in the basement remains almost exactly how it was during that time and is said to be one of the best kept prisons of its time. Thousands of innocent victims were tortured and murdered in this building. I believe there are almost 2,000 inscriptions on the walls, many telling stories of persecution. This was by far the most moving of the three sites. We did not take pictures so if you are interested in seeing the tiny cells that often held 30 prisoners, you can check out a few pictures here.

The second site was the Corrie ten Boom Museum in Haarlem, Netherlands. If you are not familiar with the story of Corrie ten Boom (which I was not until we visited the museum) she and her family hid Jews and others from the Nazis in their home. The Ten Boom's usually had 4-6 people hiding in their house. Below are a few pictures of the small hiding place which was hidden behind a false wall in the linen closet.

The Ten Boom family was caught and sent to concentration camps. Corrie was the only family member to survive and went on to write a bestselling book about her experience. You can read the full story here.

The Mémorial des Martyrs de la Déportation in Paris was the last site we visited. It is a memorial to the 200,000 French who were deported to concentration camps and never returned. The site is underground just behind Notre Dame, and was designed to feel a bit claustrophobic. When you enter the underground area there is a long hall directly across from you with an eternal flame at the end to symbolize hope. The walls along this hall are filled with 200,000 lighted crystals, one for each French citizen who died in the concentration camps.

"Forgive but never forget."

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