Here's An Early Look Inside The New Dallas Holocaust And Human Rights Museum | KERA News

Here's An Early Look Inside The New Dallas Holocaust And Human Rights Museum

Mar 26, 2019

When the new Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum makes its debut in September, it'll feature some powerful and emotional displays.

The 55,000-square-foot museum is a work in progress as new displays are installed.

War time photos will fill entire walls of the new downtown Dallas museum.
Credit Bill Zeeble / KERA News

This expanded museum's been under construction for more than three years. The new location at 300 N. Houston St. will be nearly 10 times bigger than the current Dallas Holocaust Museum across the street in downtown's West End.

» MAPSee where the new museum will be located in relation to the current museum

An iconic display is being set up on the third floor: a wooden, wartime Nazi rail car, the kind that carried millions of Jews and other victims to German death camps.

This iconic German rail car was first used in Belgium. Although it's not known if this particular car hauled human cargo, it came back to Germany during World War II where the Nazis used it non-stop. Did it haul people to death camps, like so many similar train cars?
Credit Bill Zeeble / KERA News

Historic preservationist Ron Siebler says this particular train may not have carried people.

"We know this car was in service with the Germans," Siebler 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 views into such killing centers, including interactive displays, says museum president and CEO Mary Pat Higgins.

"It's easy when you're learning about six million Jews who were murdered to forget the impact on individuals," Higgins says. "So there are testimonial stations throughout. 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."

Higgins realizes this museum may be tough on visitors, while also triggering deep empathy. That's why it also explores human and civil rights.

Mary Pat Higgins, president and CEO, discusses the iconic German rail car that will be on display at the new museum.
Credit Bill Zeeble / KERA News

"At the end of that experience, we want our visitors to be inspired, to sign up to volunteer with nonprofits throughout our community, the state, the nation or the world," he said.

Higgins fully expects many will want to take action.

» WATCH historic preservationist Rob Siebler and his team restoring the boxcar, which was originally brought to Dallas from Belgium in 1984. View more of Siebler's boxcar-restoration videos here.