Witness to the Holocaust
Survivors who worked to build the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center reflect on what the new museum means to them.
The opening of the new Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center coincides with an epochal change in the evolution of this institution. Originally built and ministered by survivors, it also stimulated governmental action to promote the teaching of tolerance. The nearly complete destruction of European Jewry was not only the result of the actions by an evil minority but by the silence and acquiescence of the majority. We, the survivors, managed to build new and productive lives from the ashes of the Holocaust, including contributions to existing societies, such as in the United States, and the creation of a new and vibrant democratic State of Israel.
With the inevitable passing of the generation of survivors, the new Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center must adopt a different style to fulfill its mission, which is no less urgent than in the past. I thought that by enduring the horrors of the Holocaust, I could, at least, say that I am leaving a better world to my children and grandchildren. Unfortunately, it is not so. The remedy, if any, does not lie only in governmental action but requires relentless education of future generations to the dangers of complacency. Even though there were always people of good will they constituted a woeful minority.