I’ll be honest, I don’t really like Holocaust Museums. Oh, don’t get me wrong, it’s a story that needs to be told, as unbelievably there are still people out there who think this tragic piece of history never happened. But I just don’t like to hear about it. Aside from the obvious pain, suffering and loss of life, I’m deeply troubled by it on a much deeper level. I’m just so disappointed that my fellow human beings orchestrated these mass slaughters on the basis of religious differences. It deeply saddens me, and if I get too philosophical about it all, I end up asking myself deeply probing questions such as “What separates the Nazis from me – after all we’re the same species?” And then I leave the museum in a pretty morose mood.
But the Houston Holocaust Museum is different. Granted they do present the realities of the Holocaust, but they also offer a ray of hope with a unique installation in their back garden.
The installation includes a railroad car and a fishing boat. The railroad car was used to transport people to the death camps, and a sobering as it all is, the fishing boat offers the ray of hope. In fact, it’s a very uplifting story. The boat was used by Danish fisherman who rescued Jews, hid them in the hold and transported them beyond the Nazi reach. So even in those bad times, there were people who did the right thing. And on some level that’s comforting to know.
The docent also offered a great interpretation of it all. Along with the realities of the harsh conditions in the railroad car, he also pointed out the hope that existed on the boat. And he had a special message for the children in the group – of which there were many. He advised them to embrace the differences in the people around them, learn from them and keep an open mind – so that a tragedy like the Holocaust will never happen again. Good advice is these uncertain times.
The museum is a good choice for wheelers and slow walkers, as the wheelchair-access is excellent. There’s level access to all of the inside exhibits, accessible restrooms and wheelchairs for loan at the front desk. Additionally there’s ramp access to the railroad car, so you can roll-in and really experience it all. And there’s plenty of accessible parking in the lot across the street.
So check it out next time you’re in Houston. You’ll be glad you did. And look for my article about other accessible things to do in Space City in an upcoming issue of Emerging Horizons.