The Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust has disturbing exhibits that must be seen – so that no Holocaust ever happens again.
Located at 36 Battery Place in Manhattan, the museum chose a fitting guide: our own Sami Steigmann, a Greeter and also a Holocaust survivor. Sami was one and half years old – too young to remember much, but the Nazis conducted experiments on him, so his pain is a constant reminder. Next October, the exhibit will become a movie, starring Ben Kingsley as Eichmann.
Eichmann was born in Austria, but he went to Germany to find work at age 27. Among other orders, Eichmann oversaw the death of 437,000 Hungarian Jews in Auschwitz. We saw films and photographs attesting to these horrors.
After the war, Eichmann went into hiding since he was on Israel’s list of War Criminals. By 1950, a visa from the Red Cross allowed him to live in Argentina. He changed his name to Ricardo Klement.
As fate would have it, a Holocaust survivor in Argentina recognized Eichmann. By identifying pictures of his ears at different times in his life, Israel’s foreign intelligence service and Mossad agents (police) completed the risky journey of bringing Eichmann to trial in Israel.
On April 11, 1961, the Eichmann trial was the first to be internationally televised. In the center of the room, Eichmann was in a bullet-proof glass booth; to the right were almost 100 Holocaust survivors giving personal testimony; to the left was the general public.
It soon became clear that Eichmann bore no guilt. “I was just following orders,” he said, transferring responsibility to his superiors. As he listened to the survivors, he showed hints of arrogance and boredom. He was found guilty and hanged on May 31, 1962.
Operation Finale examines the enormity of the Nazi crimes and speaks to the meaning of justice and accountability. Jews the world over have embraced a slogan in terms of the Holocaust: “Never Again!”
The exhibit is open through January 14, 2018. To learn more, visit mjhnyc.org or call 646-437- 4202.