As human beings, it seems we are always looking either to the past or the future: the past is where we seek to garner wisdom from our individual and collective experience, while we look to the future in the hope of better things to come…. It is very common for a child to dream of a perfect world; one that its parents and grandparents were unable to create. And often, as adults, we may still rely on that child’s dreamlike vision of the future.
Just a decade ago people were calling the twentieth century the bloodiest century in all human history and earnestly hoping that the new century would be some sort of a turning point for mankind: a time of tolerance and mutual understanding. But of course this never happened. Massacres, ethnic cleansings, atrocities, and persecution continued their pestilential depredations. Hatred may not be the prevailing force in human affairs; nevertheless its workings continue to deprive millions and millions of people of a normal life—one in which dignity, safety and, often, basic human rights are assured.
We at the Museum cannot provide answers for every question nor devise a formula for universal tolerance, understanding, and respect. However, we contribute our efforts to the struggle of so many for the ideals of humanity, for human rights, and for freedom for every human being.
Humanity is one family, and we strongly believe that members of that family are capable of finding a common language to solve their problems.
Our current exhibition, “From ‘A Crime Without A Name’ to ‘Genocide’: The Simele Massacre of Assyrians in Iraq, August 1933” relates the almost unknown tragedy that, along with other such events, spurred Raphael Lemkin to act forcefully on behalf of the victims of prejudice and hatred. His efforts resulted in the Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.
Our work continues in the preparation of a new exhibition, “The First Genocide of the 20th Century: the Herero and Nama Massacre in German South-West Africa, 1904.” This will focus on the history of the first concentration camps and medical experiments on humans, as they were perpetrated by German colonizers in Africa in the first decade of the 20th century.
Overall, our aim is to enrich our visitors’ knowledge and understanding of the problems which continue to plague the planet and turn their attention to the problems which still trouble the world.
Igor A. Kotler
President and Executive Director