The rest of the museum was broken into two portions. The first discussed other genocides through
history When I walked in there was a
large plaque with the UN definition of genocide, and then a disclosure saying
not all of the events described in the exhibit were recognized by the UN as
genocides. Next to that was a very
familiar face, Raphael Lemkin, a Holocaust survivor who invented the word
genocide. I have known his work for
years now, and read his books. I smiled
when I saw his picture, an odd thing to do in a genocide museum, and felt some
sort of deep reassurance, that in all this madness and suffering I was still
able to recognize some of the good guys.
First it discussed and detailed the Armenian genocide,
specifically focusing on Turkish denial.
Then it moved on to the unrecognized genocide in Nigeria in 1904, during
which the German colonialists executed the Herero and Nama populations. Admittedly this is something I know very
little about. I learned that the German
killed 80% of the Herero population and 50% of the Nama population. The German government has yet to recognize
the events as genocide or provide any forms of reparations. Interestingly enough, Herman Goerring’s
parents were involved in the events in Nigeria.
The next two rooms talked about the Holocaust. It was very interesting to see a history I
know so well described in a foreign country.
One room in particular was dedicated Treblinka and the death camps. There was something almost surreal to see a
map of Treblinka, and an overview of the death camp process in Rwanda.
The next room detailed Cambodia and the final room discussed
Bosnia. More and more, the pictures I
see in museums are places I have actually stood. It is interesting to see how different
countries recount the histories of other.
The final exhibit, focused on the child victims of the
genocide. It was simple with large
photographs of children, with their name above, and below a plaque, which
described their likes, dislikes, and how they died. The surviving family members decided what
went on the plaque. They were totally
disorientating. The ages ranged from 9
months to seventeen years old. The short
descriptions really highlights their innocence with the brutal manner in which
they were killed. For example David
Mugiraneza’s plaque read:
Favorite Sport: Football
Enjoyed: Making people laugh
Dream: Becoming a doctor
Last Word: “UNAMIR will come for us!”
Cause of Death: tortured to death
There were dozens like that in the exhibit and thousands
more which go undocumented. The final
room talked about children who survived, how they were coping, and their hope
for the future. It tried to end on an
uplifting note for the future of the country, but my mind was occupied by the
children in the room behind me.