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First Look At New Dallas Holocaust Museum 12

The new Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum is just months away from opening, and reporters got an early look Monday.

The 55,000 square foot museum is a work in progress as new displays are installed. This expanded museum’s been under construction more than three years, as it grows 10 times bigger than the current museum across the street in the West End.

An iconic display is being set up on the 3rd floor… a wooden, wartime Nazi rail car – the kind that carried millions of Jews and other victims to German death camps.  Historic preservationist Ron Siebler says this particular train may NOT have carried people.

“We know this car was in service in with the Germans,” he says. “What they carried in it was the unknown. The fact it was in service –  even if it was carrying cargo – it allowed other cars to carry Jews to the killing centers.”

This new museum will offer a variety of interactive displays as well,  says museum President and CEO Mary Pat Higgins.

The iconic German rail car was first used in Belgium. During World War II, it came back to Germany where the Nazis used it non-stop. Did it haul people to death camps, like so many similar train cars? Photo: Bill Zeeble

“It’s easy when you’re learning about 6 million Jews who were murdered to forget the impact on individuals. . . so there are testimonial stations throughout,” Higgins says. “But we also want to appeal to visual learners so there are artistic installations. . . which teaches our visitors the history of the Jews at Eastern Europe being murdered bullet by bullet.”

War time photos will fill entire walls of the new downtown Dallas museum. Photo: Bill Zeeble

Higgins realizes this museum may be tough. That’s why it also explores human and civil rights.

“And at the end of that experience, we want our visitors to be inspired, to sign up to volunteer with non-profits throughout our community, the state, the nation or the world,” she says.

 Higgins says she wants them to take action.