What Will You Choose to Be? – The Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum

Will you choose to be an Upstander, a Perpetrator, a Victim, or a Bystander?

This call to action is given to all visitors of the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum which reopened in September 2019. The museum, which was founded in 1984 by survivors of the Holocaust, “is dedicated to teaching the history of the Holocaust and advancing human rights to combat prejudice, hatred and indifference.”

Virtually narrated by three diverse individuals, the museum delves into the history of the Jews and the events that led up to Hitler’s rise to power and the ensuing murder of millions of Jews. The museum focuses on the Upstanders, those individuals who took a stance during that time for human rights and to help anyone being persecuted by the Perpetrators, such as Hitler who took aggressive actions to harm innocent people. The museum also looks at examples of Bystanders, those who had the opportunity but did nothing to help the Victims.

In addition to an in-depth look into Germany and European countries, the museum addresses the struggle in some of the German-occupied countries against genocide, something that I had not seen in another Holocaust museum. The exhibits are brought to life with testimonies from Dallas-area survivors as they share their heart-rending stories.

The museum does not stop with Hitler’s actions from 1933 to 1945. In the Human Rights Wing, the museum addresses the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg, Germany and the development of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. More recent examples of genocide such as those that took place in Cambodia and Rwanda are grim reminders that prejudice and deep hatred still exist.

The Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum features films and special exhibits. Currently, the exhibit, “The Fight for Civil Rights in the South” is at the museum and is also available for a virtual tour. The museum has also gone online to offer children virtual summer camps here.

Because our ten-year-old granddaughter has a deep interest in human rights and the Holocaust, we took her to the museum. We had discussed the topics in great dept before our trip, so she learned a great deal from the visit; however, I would recommend evaluating children’s maturity levels carefully before taking them to the museum as it deals with very difficult, but very timely, issues.

While the museum features the history of Hitler’s persecution of those groups that he felt were inferior, it also asks every visitor to bravely choose to be an Upstander and to stand up for others’ rights and so make a positive difference in the world today and in the future. The final choice, however, is with each person, “Will you choose to be an Upstander, a Perpetrator, a Victim, or a Bystander?”

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” George Santayana

Candace Ahlfinger has loved traveling since she was little and has always been on the go whenever possible. Now she is retired and gets to do what she loves best… TRAVEL! Whether it’s traveling with her wonderful husband, or our children and grandchildren, traveling is a great experience that enriches her life. Because she always enjoys reading and hearing about others’ travel experiences, she wants to share her travels with the Ellis DownHome readers. 


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