Travelling WWII boxcar in Collier County teaches history of the Holocaust

Published: May 9, 2022 10:04 PM EDT
Updated: May 12, 2022 6:44 PM EDT

The railroad boxcar parked in Collier County at the public library in The Estates this month is a painful reminder of a tragic time in recent western history.

“We’re trying to fill our mission which is to teach the lessons of the Holocaust to inspire action against bigotry hatred and violence,” said Cody Rademacher the curator of the Holocaust Museum & Cohen Education Center.

The boxcar is just as it was during the Holocaust, and you don’t have to be an adult to see how dehumanizing it was for the millions of Jews who were forced into them and moved to concentration camps.

“We even have shut the windows to let the children see what it’s like to be locked in a boxcar with the window shut,” said Denise McMahaon the senior library supervisor. “On a day like today it’s hot, you know there is no air conditioning, so it really sparks questions.”

And that, McMahon says, leads to discussions. “Was there Air conditioning? Were there restrooms? Well, there aren’t any restrooms…what did people do? So, it really gets people asking questions and gets that curiosity awakened.”

The goal is to spark discussion and thought about what happened and just how inhumane it was.

“We are trying to bring these experiences not only about the holocaust but about other genocides to our community,” Rademacher said. “And help them understand that these things happen across the world, they happen today and ultimately that through our collective action as a society we can actually work against genocide.”

May is Jewish American Heritage Month and this boxcar is part of the traveling display. The exhibit will be at the library through the end of May.

The Boxcar Exhibit is on loan to the Museum from F.E. and Jack Nortman and The Boxcar Foundation