This museum is a very effective memorial to the Holocaust and its victims. It does the work of a quarter's worth of historical classes on the event (if you can call it that). The subject matter is very sobering, but it is well worth the visit.
There are many quotes as you move throughout the installations, but this one summarizes part of what the architects and many people behind the museum have set as its purpose. “We who did not go their way owe them this. We must make sure that their deaths have posthumous meaning. We must make sure that from now until the end of days all humankind stares this evil in the face...and only then can we be sure it will never arise again.” (Reagan) The removal of human dignity and rights is documented here.
When you enter, you are given a card with a photo or even just a name of a person who actually went through the concentration camps. It contains some of their statistics, and you take it through the exhibits.
The reality that this person existed and had to live in these times/conditions is driven home by the cards.
The exhibits take you through different aspects of the camps. They have one that shows you the living conditions, and another of the tattoos and different insignia’s for those who were imprisoned there- gypsies, political prisoners,homosexuals, jews, the mentally retarded. Pay close attention to the architecture, even the elevator and changes in flooring... almost everything represents something tied to the Holocaust.
There is a particularly moving display of a hall, filled with photos of families and people before they were sent to the camps. There is another one of just piles and piles of shoes of humans who were killed in the camps, which devastatingly humanizes this particular exhibit.
So much information and so many artifacts are contained here; the website also has a lot of useful info about both the exhibits and the Holocaust itself. http://www.ushmm.org/ While it is full of sad and moving exhibits, it is a museum that makes its point vividly.