Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Holocaust Museum at 20 - The Washington Post

The Holocaust Museum at 20 - The Washington Post: Rebecca Dupas always begins her tours of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum with questions for students. “Why do we start with this image?” she’ll ask at the fourth-floor entrance to the permanent exhibition. Standing before photos from the 1945 liberation of the Dachau concentration camp, she points out shadows, juxtapositions, paradoxes — a half-dressed figure with the haggard face of a middle-age man and the spindly legs of a child.

They enter Holocaust history where American soldiers entered it, she’ll say, as she begins to introduce students slowly to industrial dehumanization and mass murder; to the philosophical underpinnings of the the Nazi Final Solution.

The petite African American woman, in her dark denims and patent-leather flats, seems scarcely more than a student herself. And she remembers the student she once was when she visited the museum for the first time, then came back, then took classes, then led tours, and now works there full time and sometimes writes poems about survivors.