Cranes carried two priceless artifacts from the Houston Holocaust Museum this week: one represented impending death, while the other stood for the potential of a new life.
Museum officials said the cranes carried a train car and a fishing boat from the Museum District facility into a temporary shelter.
“We’re watching the move of two of our most important artifacts,” Holocaust Museum board chairman Gary Markowitz said in an interview with a local TV station. “They show, symbolically, the two different paths that people were forced to take.”
The Danish fishing boat named Hanne Frank reportedly carried more than 7,000 Jews and others seeking to escape Nazi Germany, taking the refugees to Sweden, where they could allegedly later find passage to England and the U.S.
The train car is said to be one of thousands the Third Reich used to transport Jews, Slavs, gypsies, homosexuals and other populations the Germans considered to be “undesirables” to concentration camps.
Dozens of people would be crammed into these cars and hauled off to the camps, where they would be starved, beaten, enslaved and millions eventually murdered.
Houston resident and Holocaust survivor Chaja Verveer said she witnessed theses horrors of history as a toddler, when the Nazi’s took her and her family to one of the camps.
She spoke about what the artifacts mean to her:
“Because it (the train car) represents how debased people get,” Verveer said in another interview. “And the boat is what hope can give you.”
The museum is reportedly undergoing a $50 million expansion and is expected to reopen in the spring of 2019; its expansion is said to be doubling the size of the museum to over 57,000 square feet, making it the fourth-largest Holocaust museum in the U.S.
“We have the unique aspect that we teach the stories of the Holocaust through the eyes of our Houston survivors,” museum CEO Kelly J. Zúñiga said to reporters. “So it’s very personalized from the Houston perspective.