On June 6, the Institute’s summer interns visited the Victims of Communism Memorial and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
The Victims of Communism Memorial stands as a testament to all those who lost their lives and freedoms under communist regimes. The memorial, which is a replica of the Goddess of Democracy erected by students in Tiananmen Square, aptly reads, “To the more than one hundred million victims of communism and to those who love liberty; To the freedom and independence of all captive nations and peoples.”
The American Cold War Veterans were visiting the memorial that Friday for their annual wreath-laying, a reminder that, though the United States and Soviet Union never fought directly, it was indeed a real war with real consequences.
Dr. Marek Chodakiewicz, Professor of History of the Kosciuszko Chair in Polish Studies at IWP, graciously offered to give the interns a tour of the Holocaust Museum. Dr. Chodakiewicz’s unique perspective and expertise gave context to the museum’s content, including the often-overlooked tragedies likewise committed by the Soviets during WWII. Using stories of his own family and acquaintances, he complemented the museum’s extensive and informative exhibits.
As we walked through the museum, the Holocaust, “the catastrophe,” the plight of the Jewish people, and other perceived threats to Nazi dominance, began to feel much more personal.
Each visitor to the museum is given a “passport,” which includes a picture and story of a Holocaust victim. Footage of Hitler captures his vitriol and propaganda. Hundreds and hundreds of shoes taken from the concentration camps serve as the last reminder of their owners’ presence there. The US Holocaust Memorial Museum’s greatest accomplishment is taking the 20th Century’s greatest tragedy, bringing it closer to home, and reminding us to never let something like this happen again.
Intern and Research Assistant, IWP
Above: IWP interns outside the Capitol.