As I was walking around Boston I overheard a conversation among a few young people, probably about 17-18 years old, about a point on the Boston sight-seeing map marked only as a “Holocaust Museum”. For some reason the discussion was about the role of Americans in the holocaust and if indeed Boston was a site of a Nazi work camp! I decided not to get into that conversation but definitely wanted to check out the memorial myself.
I didn’t know what the six large glass towers were supposed to represent from afar, only after I walked up close and saw the engravings did it bring the point home. Etched on every panel that makes up these towers is a number that each Jewish prisoner was assigned and tattooed with at the camp. 2 million 280 thousand and 960 unique numbers to be exact, which of course is just a fraction of the 6 million Jews that lost their life during WWII.
Even on a hot summer’s day in Boston I got chills when walking among the numbers thinking about the atrocities human kind is capable of. It surely makes you think, and that’s exactly what it’s designed to do.
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The numbers are significant and reflect American involvement in the Holocaust, if indirectly. The Nazi Government engaged IBM to help do the number-crunching for the national census that identified Jews and other ethnic groups, using the then cutting-edge punched card technology. See: