US Holocaust Memorial Museum
Hall of Remembrance
The 6,000 square-foot Hall of Remembrance is on the second floor of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC at the end of the tour of the permanent exhibit. It is a quiet, solemn place like a church where visitors can breathe a sigh of relief after the unsettling experience of viewing the horrors of the Nazi regime. The room has 6 sides which represent the 6 million Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust, and the 6-pointed Star of David, which is the Jewish emblem. The Hall is three stories high and there is a 6-sided skylight at the top.
As you enter, the first thing you see is a rectangular block of black marble, topped by an eternal flame, as shown in the photo above. There are no real windows in the room but shafts of light are provided by narrow glass-covered slits at the four exterior corners of the building, as shown on the left in the picture.
The floor is polished marble in a hexagonal pattern. The 6 walls of the Hall of Remembrance have black marble panels, engraved with the names of the major concentration camps in Poland and Germany. The 6 death camps, where the Jews were gassed, are on a separate panel.
On the other side of the hall, opposite the eternal flame, are two speaker's stands, one on each side, resembling a pulpit in a church. It is from one of these stands that the President of the United States delivers his speech on his annual visit to the Hall on Holocaust Remembrance Day.
The photograph above shows a closeup of the black marble block, evocative of a coffin, which contains dirt from 38 of the concentration camps in Europe. The dirt was brought to America in urns, like those used by the Nazis for the ashes of the victims who were cremated, and in a touching ceremony, the dirt was deposited inside the block by Jewish survivors of the Holocaust. Dirt from a cemetery in Europe where American soldiers are buried was also included, in honor of the American liberators of the Dachau and Buchenwald concentration camps.
The black marble panel on the wall behind the eternal flame has the inscription: "Only guard yourself and guard your soul carefully, lest you forget the things your eyes saw, and lest these things depart your heart all the days of your life. And you shall make them known to your children and to your children's children."
The Hall of Remembrance is the only part of the museum where photography is allowed. No flash photography is permitted, but there is enough light in the room so that flash is not necessary. There are benches around the room where groups of students congregate to have a souvenir photograph taken.
The exterior of the Hall of Remembrance in the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC is shown in the center of the photograph above. The brick building on the left is the Ross Center; the rear of the Ross building faces the Capitol Mall. The main part of the museum is set back from the street, facing an open area called Eisenhower Plaza, but the hexagon-shaped Hall of Remembrance juts out past the building of the Bureau of Printing and Engraving on the right.
The 6-sided skylight at the top of the Hall of Remembrance is shown in the photo above. The number 6 is of great importance in the story of the Holocaust. After the Jewish population of Palestine reached the magic number of 600,000, the country of Israel was born in 1948.
This page was last updated on September 6, 2009