Sacramento is one of the few large cities in the world that does not have its own Holocaust Museum, but not to worry: a traveling exhibit called “The Courage to Remember” will be at California State University Sacramento until November 4, 2011. It is one of three identical exhibits, based on the exhibit with the same name in the Museum of Tolerance at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles. These three exhibits will be traveling around California for a year, courtesy of the Foundation of California which received a grant from SNCF (French railway company). The exhibit, which has its own website, consists of 200 photos arranged on 42 panels. The traveling exhibition was first made available to schools and libraries in California in 1991.
I went to see the exhibit at CSUS today. Just as I expected, there were a few controversial photos in the exhibit.
The most controversial photo in The Courage to Remember exhibit is the famous photo shown below. The photo shows a soldier shooting at something that is beyond the woman standing near him, holding a child. Two rifles can be seen on the far left in the photo, which indicates that there were at least two other soldiers also shooting.
Soldier shown in World War II photo
Did the exhibit really show the photo above? No, of course not. The photo in the exhibit was the cropped version shown below. In this version of the photo, it appears that the soldier is aiming at a woman holding a child, ready to blow her head off. What is the purpose of cropping this photo to make it appear that soldiers were shooting women and children? There oughta be a law against this!
Same photo, but cropped to show soldier shooting at a woman holding a child
Controversial photo in Courage to Remember exhibit
Another controversial photo that is shown in the exhibit is the famous photo of the little boy with his hands up. This caption in the exhibit is “Women and children surrender after the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising is suppressed in May 1943.”
The photo above is from the photo album of Jürgen Stroop, the Commander of the SS troops who put down the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in 1943. In spite of the fact that the photo above is included in the Stroop Report, which was compiled during April and May, 1943, it was identified by Holocaust survivor Tsvi C. Nussbaum as a photo taken on July 13, 1943 in front of the Hotel Polski on the Aryan side of the Warsaw ghetto, where some Jews had been living as Gentiles. Nussbaum claims that he is the seven-year-old boy in the photo and that the woman on his left is his aunt.
One of the exhibit panels, with the title “Systematic Mass Murder 1942 – 1945,” has a photo of some Dachau prisoners shoving a corpse into one of the ovens in the Dachau crematorium. This is a posed photo, taken by the American military at Dachau, after the camp was liberated. The corpse in the photo is a dummy which was used to illustrate how the bodies were put into the ovens. It is implied in the exhibit that burning the corpses proves “systematic mass murder” at Dachau.
Photo similar to the one shown in the exhibit
An exhibit panel with the title “Liberation, Unmasking unspeakable horrors” has the famous photo, shown below, of a British soldier driving a bulldozer which is shoving naked bodies into mass graves.
British soldier driving a bulldozer at Bergen-Belsen
On the same exhibit panel is a photo with the caption: “SS guards and Kapos captured at Bergen-Belsen, April 1945.” What is not explained is that these SS guards had volunteered to stay at the camp to help the British after the Bergen-Belsen camp was voluntarily turned over them by Heinrich Himmler on April 15, 1945. They were “captured” after the British broke their agreement with the Germans; the SS men had not volunteered to help the British with the understanding that they would be “captured” and put on trial as war criminals.
You can read about the SS guards who were “captured” on my website here.
Famous photo of woman and children walking to the gas chamber at Auschwitz
The photo above, which is probably the most famous photograph of the Holocaust, shows a woman and children walking down a road inside the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp.
This photo is shown in The Courage to Remember exhibit with a caption which says that the woman and children are “on the way to the gas chambers.” The photo is on a panel which has the title “Auschwitz-Birkenau, Half Hell and Half Lunatic Asylum.” I don’t understand this title, but maybe it means that anyone, who thinks this photo proves that there were gas chambers at Auschwitz, belongs in a lunatic asylum.
On an exhibit panel with the title Theresienstadt, the “Model Ghetto” there is a black and white close-up photo of a sign that reads “Arbeit Macht Frei” with the caption: “Work makes Freedom” the cynical sign at Theresienstadt, 1943. The problem is that this sign was not on the Theresienstadt Ghetto where the Jews were sent. The sign was on the gate into the Little Fortress, a prison for political prisoners that was near the Ghetto. My photo below shows the gate into the Little Fortress.
Arbeit macht Frei sign was on the gate into the Little Fortress, not the gate into the Theresienstadt Ghetto
Another panel in the exhibit has the title “The Deadly Philosophy, Racial Purity.” Correct me if I am wrong, but haven’t the Jews tried to keep their race pure for 5,000 years? On this exhibit panel is a photo taken at Auschwitz, which is shown below.
Photo of a Jewish prisoner at Auschwitz
Dr. Josef Mengele was doing research at Auschwitz-Birkenau to determine the heredity involved in producing a race with deformities, so as to keep the German ethnic group free of deformities. Was that so wrong?
The photo below is shown in the exhibit on a panel with the title “The Reich Expands 1938.” The subtitle is “Jews forced to clean the streets of Vienna 1938.” The caption of the photo reads “Jewish men and women were forced to scrub the streets on their knees while many Viennese cheered.”
Photo in The Courage to Remember exhibit
In the exhibit, the photo is cropped so as NOT to show the soldiers in the background. This photograph also hangs in the USHMM; it shows Jews being forced to scrub Schuschnigg’s Fatherland Front slogans off the sidewalks of Vienna after the Anschluss. Would it have killed the organizers of the exhibit to explain what is really going on in this photo?
Was there anything in the exhibit that met with my approval? Yes, there was a photo taken in the courtyard at the Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria which had this caption: “Mass delousing of Mauthausen inmates during a typhus epidemic in 1941.” The usual story told about Mauthausen is that the prisoners were forced to stand naked in the courtyard in order to kill them by freezing them to death. The photo is shown below.
Prisoners in the courtyard at Mauthausen
Photos of the exhibit at CSUS are shown below.
The Courage to Remember exhibit
One of the 42 panels in the Courage to Remember exhibit
Poster at the entrance to the exhibit