The immersive “Hate Ends Now: The Cattle Car Stepping in and out of Darkness” boxcar exhibit returned to Palm Beach Atlantic University (PBA) to provide a learning opportunity about the horrors of the Holocaust and the hope of building a better tomorrow.
The boxcar exhibit was originally a project done by students at the University of Guelph in 2015, which attracted thousands of visitors and highlighted the need for engaging education about the Holocaust.
The multi-sensory exhibit allows participants to step into a boxcar and feel the conditions experienced by Jews who were being moved to concentration camps by the Nazis. A 360° video tells the story of two Holocaust survivors.
As visitors enter the cattle car, they notice footprints of all sizes painted on the floor, representing the estimated 100 men, women, and children who would have been crammed into the space. After a few minutes of darkness, the audience is surrounded by projections on the walls as the Holocaust survivors explain how the boxcar was a dehumanizing experience.
People in the boxcar were exposed to extreme heat, cold and disease because of a lack of personal space and sanitation. For many, the boxcar would be the last time they ever saw their family.
The projection goes on to show the audience how the Nazis came to power and shares examples of how they treated marginalized groups. The hateful narrative of intolerance led to the foundation of concentration camps where millions were killed and cruelly exploited for work and human experiments.
When the Allies liberated the camps in 1945, the Americans followed President Eisenhower’s order to film all the atrocities so no one would ever be able to deny the horrors of the Holocaust.
“Hatred, intolerance and genocide did not end with the Holocaust, so we have a responsibility to ask ourselves, ‘What warnings will you learn from history?’” says the narrator of the projection.
The narrator goes on to describe how the memories of the Holocaust should not be allowed to fade into the dark, but instead should be carried with the audience as they continue their lives and hopefully fight for all of humanity to be treated equally.
Both survivors whose stories are shared in the exhibit expressed hope that through education, the next generation can fight the type of prejudice that caused the Holocaust. They hope exhibits like this will help people stand up and not stand by when injustice is committed. The mistakes of the past do not have to be repeated if they are never forgotten.
“As long as we have mutual understanding and mutual respect and acceptance, we can all live together in harmony and peace forever,” said Nate Leipciger, one of the Holocaust survivors.
Photo Courtesy of inSIGHT Through Education: “Hate Ends Now: The Cattle Car, Stepping In and Out of Darkness” exhibit is coming to West Palm Beach on Sunday, Nov. 12. (inSIGHT Through Education/Courtesy)