January 19, 2024 – The American Heritage Museum unveiled the restoration of a WWII-era German Deutsche Reichsbahn Rail Car during a memorial and remembrance ceremony on Friday, January 19th, 2024 as the first phase of a comprehensive permanent exhibit on the Holocaust within the museum. Acquired by the museum in the Summer of 2023, the rail car underwent a full restoration by museum volunteers and staff before installation for the ceremony in advance of Holocaust Memorial Day on January 27th.
Over 100 guests were in attendance for the ceremony, including distinguished guests: Ambassador Meron Reuben, Consul General of Israel in Boston; Christopher Mauriello, Ph.D., Director, Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Salem State University; Cantor Vera Broekhuysen of the Congregation Beth El of Sudbury; and Cantor Wendy Siegel of the Temple Emanuel of Marlborough.
At the American Heritage Museum, this original rail car acts as a powerful symbol, connecting visitors to the reality of the Holocaust as inflicted by Nazi Germany and other Axis collaborators. Standing in front of this relic, visitors can imagine the unimaginable: the inhuman conditions endured for days, the fear, the uncertainty, and the sheer terror that innocent men, women, and children endured as they were transported to the death camps. It is a tangible representation of the suffering and dehumanization inflicted upon millions, allowing visitors to establish a personal and emotional connection with the victims.
“This museum adheres to an unyielding principle: we are morally obligated to remember the past” said Rob Collings, President of the American Heritage Museum. “To ensure the memory of those lost and those who suffered, we enshrine this inanimate object, a witness that will stand long after the survivors have all left us.”
The rail car installation is the first phase of a two phase exhibit plan to gain a deeper understanding of the Holocaust, its origins, and its lasting impact on humanity. Phase Two, to be completed within the year for the 80th Anniversary of the Liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp on January 27, 2025, will include survivor testimonies, historical documents, and personal artifacts that provides a comprehensive and immersive experience that pays homage to the victims and preserves their legacy.
“Through education, remembrance, and introspection, we can ensure that the lessons of the Holocaust are learned and that future generations are equipped to build a more compassionate and tolerant world” explains Hunter Chaney, Director of Communications and Education for the museum.
The rail car is currently on display in the World War II Gallery of the American Heritage Museum, open Wednesday through Sunday each week from 10:00am to 5:00pm.
The American Heritage Museum encourages members of the community to support our efforts to complete Phase Two of the exhibit in the coming year – please visit https://www.AmericanHeritageMuseum.org/Holocaust-Exhibit to learn more.