Yesterday I got back from Washington, D.C., where in addition to a little rest and relaxation I attended a two-day training seminar at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum on the Mall. There were fifty trainees from across the country all told, and the sessions were led by an extraordinary group of historians, archivists, educators, librarians, and museum professionals. I cannot express what a privilege it was to attend. I won’t go into too much detail as of yet because many details have yet to be worked out, but if all goes as planned this project will lead to several thought-provoking historiographical and interpretive programs. In these challenging, often despairing, times it is more important than ever to understand history properly. The United States’s responses to the rise of fascism, the war, and the Holocaust itself were complicated to say the least. As is the case with all historical events, one must embrace the contradictions and complexity to understand fully. As the sign in the photograph I took at the museum implies, it is up to us not just to provide answers but to ask the right questions.
Going in to the sessions I already had a number programming ideas. In the breakout sessions and group discussions the event organizers and attendees gave me a number of further options and possibilities to explore. Hopefully I gave them some ideas as well. This will be an ongoing endeavor and those conversations will continue. I intend to share more on this in the coming weeks and months as things further develop.