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Visceral reminder of Holocaust in form of cattle car exhibit in Washington

The exhibit called attention to the dangers of intolerance, antisemitism and contemporary hate.

A World War II cattle car traveling exhibit teaching lessons of the Holocaust was stationed in Washington, D.C., from May 6-9, 2024. Credit: Courtesy of Hate Ends Now.
A World War II cattle car traveling exhibit teaching lessons of the Holocaust was stationed in Washington, D.C., from May 6-9, 2024. Credit: Courtesy of Hate Ends Now.

A cattle car exhibit on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., this week welcomed visitors, including elected and appointed officials, for an immersive learning experience about the Holocaust, as well as the dangers of antisemitism, intolerance and racism.

It was stationed from May 6 to May 9 near the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Veteran Affairs.

The traveling exhibit, organized by the nonprofit group Hate Ends Now, included a 20-minute, 360-degree immersive presentation and featured a rare collection of original artifacts. Its opening included an event with public officials and coincided with Holocaust Remembrance Day on May 6 that also marked the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

Todd Cohn, CEO of Hate Ends Now, said the exhibit in “the capital of the free world during a time of alarming increase in antisemitism globally sends a powerful message, reminding us of what happens when hate is allowed to go unchecked. People of all ages have a visceral reaction when they step foot in the cattle car and when it seemingly comes to life with the voices, pictures and stories of this dark era.”

Trained docents provided critical context and framed the presentation. Accompanying the exhibit were 25 original artifacts from the Holocaust, and visitors got to see and hear firsthand accounts of survivors, all in the backdrop of a replica of a World War II-era cattle car used to transport Jews and other targeted groups to concentration and death camps. 

“Amid sharp increases in antisemitism across the country, the need to bring the cattle car to more people is greater than ever before,” said Cohn. “Particularly for people who do not connect as much with a textbook or museum or don’t otherwise have access to educational opportunities like this, the exhibit is especially important. It is the perfect learning experience.”

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