survival of memory
MHMC’s program in honour of International Holocaust Remembrance Days
By Luc Archambault
First published January 21, 2017
Some museums seem to exist in a void, silently. Why is that? Some certainly by lack of pertinence ; others by lack of popular commitment ; others by mere lack of visibility. The MHMC (the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre) lacks neither pertinence, nor popular commitment, nor visibility (who hasn’t seen the billboards in the subway?). Even though, it doesn’t seem to ring a bell with visitors and tourists in the Metropolis. Perhaps because of its subject matter… but its mere presence reflects the survival of a community faced with barbarism, and as such is a positive source of commemoration.
Through its permanent exhibition, the museum invites reflection on the nature and history of genocides. Not just the Holocaust, even if this event constitutes the main focus of artefacts and display cases of the visit. But the guides on hand will rapidly remind visitors of the continuous racism and prejudice, and confront them, ever so gently, on each and everyone’s capability for hate and the complex reality behind its inner logic.
The visit starts with the evocation of Jewish life before the war and the Nazi assumption of power. Afterwards, the visit enters the section on the institutionalization of terror in Germany, the steps leading to the instauration of discriminatory policies that finally resulted in the implementation of the genocidal machinery. The exhibition ends with the liberation, the displaced persons camps and all the problems liked with survivors’ immigration and the post-war period.
…the guides on hand will rapidly remind visitors of the continuous racism and prejudice, and confront them… on each and everyone’s capability for hate and the complex reality behind its inner logic.
The museum also showcases, behind its displays, rare personal objects, poignant testimonies of those years of persecution. Identity cards stamped ‘J’ for ‘Jewish’. Yellow stars worn in France, Croatia and elsewhere. And the Auschwitz heart, this small reliquary symbolizing hope and love, a magnificent tool for raising the awareness of young and not so young ones… The museum is rich with all sorts of documents, and the web site is full of teaching aids to help frame the necessary descent into hell of these young minds that must be made aware of this dark side of mankind’s history.
For more information about the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre visit mhmc.caImages: courtesy of the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre
Writer and journalist, globe-trotter at heart, passionate about movies, music, literature and contemporary dance, came back to Montreal to pursue his unrelenting quest for artistic meaning.