Experiences, Attachments, Reminders, and Lessons from WW2- A museum does all that at once

It’s September 1st 1939 the world goes to war. Dubbed by some as the great Armageddon, to others the apocalypse with all its horrors, it contains in itself violence, sacrifices, bravery, and let’s not forget, gruesome realities. This becomes even more relevant when we observe the world around us today. Looking back at the greatest war of 20th century can help us make this world a peaceful place- by not repeating the mistakes of WWII.

It is almost impossible for us to imagine-playing with our smartphones, thinking about our next tweet or status update- the true horrors and mental torture of WWII. But in this age of super fast broadband and high-end technology, there is a place that can take us all the way back to those dark and gloomy days of WWII, The National World War 2 Museum New Orleans. It is not an ordinary museum, where you see old distant artifacts put behind glass with lengthy notes next to them. It is a time machine, an experience-generator if you will, that will give you chills and to make you reassess your notions and presumptions about war and people.

Best amongst its features, is a 4D experience of WWII – a movie called Beyond All Boundaries, narrated by its executive producer, Tom Hanks. It has quickly become the centerpiece of the museum, purely because of its gripping cinematography, and 4-dimensional presentation. Viewers can experience 3D without wearing special glasses, and the 4th dimension is added with shaky seats, wind blowing through the seats, and smoke. The movie starts by showing in numbers country-wise how many people perished in WWII. Soviet Union: 24,000,000. China: 20,000,000. Poland: 5,600,000. Japan: 3,100,000. USA: 418,000.And Germany: 8,800,000. In total that mounts to 65 million dead, more than all other wars up until that point in history, The Columbus Dispatch reports.

The movie depicts emotions, fear, pain and loss in a more personal manner. Viewers see people shivering with fear and cold, hundreds and thousands of bodies piled over one another, kids shocked and perplexed. The sheer enormity of the war – though impossible to wrap your head around – is presented to the viewers in a very realistic way, who then leave the theater somewhat shaken and with love for peace.

Visitors can also get involved with another amazing learning experience, called DogTag Experience. Once you buy the ticket, you follow one person’s journey throughout the war. You can dig through archives, letters, pictures and other documents to see how that particular individual lived throughout the war. After a while looking at the pictures and reading their letters and notes, you feel a sense of attachment to that person.

This is what moves the visitors, going through the lives of the people involved in the war, and feeling a sense of respect for the ones who lost their lives for peace. The National WWII Museum New Orleans is doing a great service by keeping alive the memories of those who perished for a better world.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE