The Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. has presented the Bell County Museum with the opportunity to host the first traveling exhibit west of the Mississippi River. UMHB and the museum are partnering together to encourage students and residents of Belton to attend the exhibit.
Dr. Timothy Crawford, the Dean of the College of Christian Studies brought the idea of hosting the exhibit to the museum’s curator, Beverly Headley.
“We were honored to help out by bringing [the exhibit] to the UMHB community, the Bell County Museum, and the Belton area.” said Headley. “It’s a great reminder that we must study history. We need to understand not only what happened, but why it was allowed to happen. It raises fundamental issues about human nature, social responsibility and the obligation of individuals and institutions to act with a conscience in the face of unspeakable crimes.”
The exhibit, Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race, discusses the medical and scientific studies of the Holocaust. This exhibit examines how the Nazi’s thought about genetics and used leadership and science to help justify persecution and murder.
“This exhibit is a really good answer to the question why did the Holocaust happen?” Crawford said. “The terms ‘racially fit’ and ‘the cleansing of Germany’ was often used to explain to the German citizens why these atrocities were the right things to do.”
The museum shows advertisements that were posted all around the country about how unethical it was for “racially fit Germans” to marry or procreate with “non-Germans.”
And race wasn’t the only thing that Germany wanted to exterminate from family trees. Homosexuals, the handicapped, and the mentally ill were also considered to have “bad genetics.” A small number of artifacts are also located in the museum showing Nazi supporters personal items.
“Deadly Medicine is a reminder that it has happened in the past and it is a history we should not repeat.” said.
The exhibit is sectioned into two parts. On the first floor of the museum, guests can see sciences and experiments that took place before World War II began, focusing on creating the “perfect race.” Guests can also see the famous scientists that were used as inspiration for the experiments, such as Gregory Mendel and Charles Darwin, as well as the scientists that played important roles in the experiments, such as Dr. Ernst Rudin. There are many videos that play among the exhibit to show viewers what types of tools that were used, footage of results, and small biographies of different scientists.
The second floor of the museum discusses what happened once World War II began. It depicts the victims of the illegal experiments, concentration camps, and how forced sterilization came into play to prevent contamination of the races. The second floor has a documentary on display that shows many survivor stories. The stories are diverse because they and come from the perspectives of the mentally ill that were in institutions, families of the victims, twins that were separated and experimented on, and people who were in concentration camps.
Senior Nursing Major Gaby Fuentes said it was a startling experience to learn about the role that public health had in the Holocaust. “It talks about how the Nazis pushed for genocide by wanting a pure race. It’s interesting to see how medicine and public health had its role in pushing in this direction,” said senior nursing major, Gaby Fuentes, “It’s very informative and an eye opener.”
The exhibit will be open at the Bell County Museum from Jan. 16 through May 21, Tuesday through Friday from noon to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.