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National Holocaust Museum???

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timeforchange posted 8/6/2013 13:17 PM

We will be in DC next week and are sooooo looking forward to it.

I just want to lead up to my question by saying that my boys (13 & 9) both want to join the military. They have a large knowledge of WW2 history. Last week we went to Belgium followed in the footsteps of E-company (Band of Brothers).
We have visited numerous WW2 and WW1 cemeteries and museum.

Whilst in DC I would like to take them to the National Holocaust Museum. We live in Germany (but are British)... I think they need to truly understand what happened to the Jews.

With my 13 year old I have no qualms.

But the website of the museum does not recommend it to under 11s. My 9 year old is gifted. He talks and reasons like a teenager. He has seen many WW2 sites.

To people who have visited the National Holocaust Museum... I am expecting the permenant exhibition to be haunting and emotional. Are there any exhibits there which you would categorically rule out for a mature, historically aware 9 year old??????

Thanks for any guidance / opinions.

simplydevastated posted 8/6/2013 13:39 PM

I was there years ago. If I remember correctly there's two parts to the museum a free part and a pay part. We were short on time so we only went through the free part. If it's still set up like this it starts out in a little boys bedroom, I believe his name is Daniel or David. Then it walks you through him and his family getting ushered into the Ghettos and then to camps. As you walk it goes from bright and happy to dark and creepy. I've heard there's a room filled with shoes, but we didn't see that it could have been in another part of the museum.

If your son can handle it then I'd say take him. I would just prepare him for what he'll see. Maybe pick up a book at the library or visit some websites.

Here's a link to the museum for more information.

timeforchange posted 8/6/2013 13:56 PM

Thanks simply....

I checked the site and it has a child oriented exhibition called Daniels Story... See through the eyes of a young boy.

I know my 13 year old wants to see the permanent exhibition and I am on the fence about whether or not to go into that part.

My gut is telling me to first visit the children's exhibition and see how that goes.....

I was taught history at school by a woman who survived Auschwitz as a young child. It seemed she resembled one of the guards daughters and he protected and fed her. The other 23 members of her family did not survive the camp.

simplydevastated posted 8/6/2013 14:11 PM

Ok, so that is the part that we saw, Daniel's story.

That would be a good idea to see that part first. Let him dictate what he's comfortable with. My son knows a lot about history and WWII and I'm not sure how comfortable he would be.

That is so sad. She's lucky he was there to protect her.

A woman I worked with grew up in Poland and her family hid two Jewish girls in a pile of hay. She told me that some soldiers came to their house looking for them and they were scared they would be found because then they would be arrested. They never found the girls.

When I worked for a jewelry store a woman came in to a have a ring cleaned, it was a gold band, and she told me that it survived the holocaust. I was so scared to handle it I didn't want anything to happen to it.

yewtree posted 8/6/2013 14:45 PM

If you want to go to the main exhibit, y ou need to get there early and buy your tickets. They sell out fast, and there are only so many sold per day.
I made that mistake and was only able to see Daniel's story, which was very well done, and quite humbling.

hurtbs posted 8/6/2013 14:51 PM

Keep in mind that the Holocaust museum has images, stories, and elements that are incredibly graphic - nudity, dead bodies (including children), etc. When I was there, they had a video running of bulldozers pushing thousands of bodies into mass graves. I have a very high tolerance - I've seen blood sports in person, surgeries, autopsy, even video image of an execution. This imagery was highly disturbing to me.

Keep in mind that the warning is not about the academic/intellectual age of your children, it's about the emotional age and ability to grasp and understand it.

They don't censor anything in the museum - which is great. They shouldn't. However, that means there is a lot of torture, death, rape, etc in graphic detail that your child will see.

Amazonia posted 8/6/2013 15:01 PM

Will you have another adult along who can sit outside with your 9yo while you continue through with the 13yo if it becomes too much for him?

Newlease posted 8/6/2013 15:08 PM

I toured the paid part of the museum last May. It had a very profound affect on me - I left the museum in tears.

There is a LOT of reading - there is really so much material about the lead up to the war. It was very informative, but it takes a long time to read all the material. I'm not sure a young child (albeit mature) would have the patience for that type of time commitment.


Rebreather posted 8/6/2013 15:11 PM

It is a powerful, powerful experience.

Many exhibits, while graphic, also allow you the choice to view the whole thing or not. IIRC, there were little half walls in places that you can bend over to view more or not, as your choice.

To do the museum justice, you need a few hours at least. I didn't have enough time while there.

lynnm1947 posted 8/6/2013 15:16 PM

My children went with their dad when they were young teenagers. Apparently they were assigned a number and found out at the end whether they lived or died. They both said it was an incredibly moving experience.

timeforchange posted 8/6/2013 15:31 PM

Hurtbs.... Thank you that is the type of detail I was hoping to find out.....

Hmmm I need to think long and hard about this.

Thank to you for sharing your experiences of the museum and war stories.

Having read all your descriptions I think it may be best to stick with Daniel's story only.

Thanks everyone

Eranda posted 8/6/2013 18:15 PM

My kids are 14 and 15 and they went with my parents this summer, with my blessing. Both kids were very moved by it, and I doubt they will forget it for the rest of their lives.

Williesmom posted 8/6/2013 18:20 PM

I went to the holocaust museum in Israel. I will never forget it - you could hear a pin drop throughout the entire place.

I'm going to dc next month, and would like to see it, but my travel companions don't want to go.

gonnabe2016 posted 8/6/2013 21:16 PM

It's been quite a while since I went there, but I don't think that my oldest was more than 12 (possibly a bit younger)

I don't remember having any *gasp* moments -- so I do think that some of the more graphic videos may be sheltered.

IIRC, there was a replica of the 'ovens'.

The only part of the tour that I clearly remember, and will never forget, is the room of shoes.
Real shoes from the real people. Thousands of shoes.

It truly is one of the best historical museums that I've ever visited.

Jeaniegirl posted 8/6/2013 23:54 PM

It's a wonderful experience. It sounds as if your sons are intelligent enough to understand and realize what they are seeing. I think everyone should see it. There are benches throughout and it's not unusual to see people sitting and crying softly - so if this would bother your sons, that's a decision you have to make. I was totally overwhelmed by the glass room full of hair and another full of shoes. I also was moved to tears by the exhibit showing what happened to gay people.

Upon entering we were given leather looking 'passports' and assigned a name of a real Jewish person during that horrible time and it was only at the end of the tour if we found out if we were gassed or survived.

tushnurse posted 8/7/2013 08:45 AM

I have not been, so that is my disclaimer ....
But being that this may be one of those once in a lifetime things I would strongly urge to mentally prepare your son of the things he might see, and that if it's too much then you can leave.
I have two amazingly gifted kids, who are history buffs, and have spent a large amount of time reading, and learing about WWII. If I had the opportunity at age 9 I would have taken them.
However I have always been of the opinion that sheltering them from the reality of the world does more harm than good. They both have been exposed to things sooner than a lot of other parents would.

I do feel strongly that it is something that we should all be reminded of and understand what really happened to an entire race of people. History repeats itself, unless we all do something to prevent it.

stroppy_wanadoo posted 8/7/2013 13:34 PM

We are going to DC tomorrow with our kids, ages 9 and 12. After long discussions with others who have been there, we've opted not to take them at this time.

While I would like to go myself and want my children to go at some point in their lives, I don't think it appropriate at these ages. It is the emotional impact I worry about. I want cultured, respectful children, yet I also feel the strong urge to protect their innocence for just a few years more.

timeforchange posted 8/7/2013 15:47 PM

Have a great time stroppy wanadoo..

I have been going back and forth on this all day... It's a tough decision.

Thanks once more for all the different points of view.

I think this weekend I will show DS 9 some of the least barbaric images of the Holocaust... And observe how he handles it and talk to him about the history.

It's a tough one.

caregiver9000 posted 8/7/2013 16:03 PM

There is a virtual tour and collection of photos, journals, and artifacts at This would be a way to measure his interest and emotional sturdiness for the topic. It is less overwhelming because it is on the computer screen. You can "look away." But the content and the idea that human cruelty was beyond measure is there. If your children had questions they would have time and privacy to frame them.

Good luck with your decision.

eta: the virtual tour is of the actual concentration camps, not the Holocaust Museum.

[This message edited by caregiver9000 at 4:05 PM, August 7th (Wednesday)]

Teach8 posted 8/7/2013 16:18 PM

I was just there this may...all the tickets for every weekend were gone through july. So just a heads up. We were lucky enough to get in because my husband is a police officer. Fire, police and government employess can go without tickets. I was grateful that my children weren't there...two boys who are 10 and 8. We plan to go again when they are 14 and 12. I doubt mine are as mature as yours but it was incredibly emotional. They have a section where they have tv's down low in the ground and big walls around them. All the tv's show footage of experiments that were conducted on children. That was truly gut wrenching. But it is also something you can keep younger kids away from, and I'm sure it was designed that way. It is also incredibly quiet. It takes a long time to go through the museum...I would never have been able to take in the museum the way I did if they had been with me the first time through. Either way, it is such an important and moving experience.

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