by George J Elbaum
The Holocaust Center for Humanity (HCH) arranged my very first two talks to students in October 2010, and has continued to arrange many more for my subsequent visits to Seattle. The Holocaust Center teaches the lessons of the Holocaust, inspiring students of all ages to confront bigotry and indifference, promote human dignity, and take action. The Center reaches 40,000 students a year in schools and communities around the Pacific Northwest with educational resources and programs, and provides immersive learning experiences to thousands of additional students at their museum and education center.
The Holocaust Center’s impressive facility provides not only space for offices but also for the museum and, most importantly, for exhibitions and educational seminars. One wonderful example of the former is last year’s exhibit Anne Frank – A History for Today which drew audiences of up to 500 per day, while educational seminars are exemplified by the talks I’ve given at HCH in past years and again today.
In addition, by the end of 2017 the Holocaust Center (partnering with the ADL and USHMM) will have trained the entire Seattle Police Department in a program called Law Enforcement and Society: Lessons of the Holocaust. This program draws on universal and timely lessons learned from the Holocaust to challenge law enforcement officials to examine their relationship with the public they serve, and to explore issues related to the personal responsibility of officers to administer their authority ethically.
Today’s talk was attended by adults and entire families who have participated in related HCH events, such as HCH’s trip to Poland and its Student Leadership Board, and it also included small groups from the Northwest Communities of Burma and from the King County heritage group, 4Culture. Several hours after the talk I received an email from one of the attendees with photos that he took during the session and the following wonderful comment: “It was a pleasure meeting you and listening to your story. I think I am speaking for all of us when I say we walked away as more thoughtful human beings.” Thank you!
The talk was organized by Julia Thompson, HCH’s Education Associate who introduced me to the audience, and attended by Karen Chachkes, Director of External Affairs; Richard Greene, Museum Experience and Technology Director; and Dee Simon, Baral Family Executive Director of the HCH, who opened the event and welcomed the audience.