20 April 2009

Illinois: Opening day, new Holocaust museum

Some 12,000 people made it to the opening day of the new $45 million Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center in Skokie.

Major speakers included former President Bill Clinton, author/survivor Elie Wiesel, philanthropist J.B. Pritzker, as well as Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, violinist Miri Ben-Ari, the German ambassador and others, as well as many educators invited to the event.

The Chicago Tribune extensively covered the event here, and the story offers several videos, photographs and related links.
The newly opened museum at 9603 Woods Drive, designed by architect Stanley
Tigerman, covers 65,000 square feet and contains two wings, one dark and one
light. The dark side houses the main exhibit with the horrors of the Holocaust
depicted, while the light side symbolizes rescue, renewal, hope and remembrance.
During Clinton's remarks, in a speech thanking survivors for their courage to educate others during a time when genocide still unfolds across the world, he also called attention to the fact that it was significant to him "that this will be the last museum built in the United States with the direct memories of the survivors."

Wiesel's remarks emphasized that each person can make a difference with a simple action: ""You never can know the impact and the consequences of a word, a sentence, a prayer or a smile."
"We must learn now very simple lessons, that whatever happens to one community happens to all communities," he said. "Some people believe, 'Oh, it's only the Jews.' Oh, no. When a Jew is slapped in the face, it is all of humanity that falls to its knees."
The impetus for the museum was a threatened march - more than three decades ago - on Skokie by neo-Nazis. Although the march never took place, the survivors living in the town formed a foundation and speakers' bureau in a storefront museum.

Read the complete story at the link above as well as the related videos, photographs and other links.

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