When I was in D.C. last week, there was one thing I had to do: to visit the Holocaust museum. This was a choice over visiting the Nation’s Capitol, the White House or the museums in the Judicial Square area.

I had to go to the Holocaust memorial; I had to see it.
I went there with Khachik Papanyan, a young Armenian from Austin whom I met at the ANCA Leadership Conference.

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Photography was not allowed inside the museum. I found the picture of Hitler’s quote in the net

One thing I will never forget from the museum was the slideshow of various parts of bodies “Made In” German hospitals, and the picture of a Jewish man who was forced to drink water from the ocean to test whether the German soldiers, whose planes crashed on the ocean, could survive with that kind of water.

There are many chances that I would never go to the Holocaust museum, as opposed to visiting the Capitol instead, if I weren’t Armenian; if my own family members had not been burned in Urfa’s church.

But one has no identity in the Holocaust museum. One is looking, as stated in a famous saying, at the story of our people murdered by our people.

A bundle of books in a case attracted my attention. I assumed that these were the books by Jewish authors that Germans had burnt during the Holocaust. This reminded me of the cultural genocide of the Armenian genocide that I did my paper on for the International Institute of Genocide and Human Rights Studies.

I don’t think the bundle included the Bible, although most of it is written by Jews, isn’t it? Later I decided to actually read the entire list of the authors whose works were eliminated in Germany, but I stopped on the first one: Frantz Werfel. Finding Werfel should not have been surprising to me, but to actually see him as the first person on the list of Jewish geniuses was something different.

In the 21st century, Frantz Werfel’s name is mostly familiar to Armenians. In the 20th century, during WWII, his name was way familiar to the Jews of the concentration camps. According to what my Jewish professor Herbert Hirsch told me in Toronto, Werfel’s “The Forty Days of Musa Dagh” was the Bible of the concentration camps.

For those of you who are not familiar, “The Forty Days of Musa Dagh” is the story of a few thousand Armenians who concentrated on Musa mount and defended themselves against the Turkish army during the Genocide. This was the best-known Armenian self-defense during the genocide. If I am not mistaken, this was the best-selling book in Europe, after the Bible, in the 30s and the 40s. Why had Werfel written such a book? Well, he thought the same might happen to his people…

I continue to walk, with the disgusting feeling that Nazis destroyed the “Bible of the concentration camps” just because the author was Jewish. And ironically, that book by a Jew was about the self-defense of other people during other genocide.
I walk ahead and another part of the Museum strikes me: Hitler’s “Who Remembers the Extermination of the Armenians” quote is on the left wall. I stand there for a few minutes, reading it over and over again. Could we, the Armenians, have prevented the Holocaust had we been more successful in having the perpetrators of the Armenian genocide punished?

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Took this one from outside

Then I spend another thirty minutes in the Museum, and it is time to go: my flight is pretty soon. I walk down the stairs with the sad and various thoughts about humans, people, my people and my family. I walk with the sad thought that the way we were killed was inspirational for others to kill others, and the way we tried not to be killed was inspirational for others not to be killed too.

Closer to the exit of the museum, I saw the pictures of some prominent Jews that fought against the Nazis. I read one by one. I saw Polish Jew Rayman’s name; I knew I had seen the name before.

I read Rayman’s biography, and here it was. He was one of the members of Armenian survivor Missak Manouchian’s group that organized the French Resistance against the Nazis.

I came back to Denver in a few hours reading Anne Frank.