FAU Hillel marks Holocaust Remembrance Day with ‘powerful’ exhibit

FAU Hillel chapter invited students to step inside a replica World War II cattle car, used to transport Jews and other targeted groups to concentration camps.


Nicholas Windfelder

FAU students visit a replica World War II cattle car near the Social Sciences building.

Justine Kantor, News Editor

Content warning: the following article contains graphic images 

The Hillel chapter at FAU invited students to step inside a replica World War II cattle car in honor of International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Hillel arranged for the non-profit organization Shadowlight to stop at FAU. The organization aims to teach students about the Holocaust. 

The exhibit, titled “The Cattle Car: Stepping In and Out of Darkness,” featured a 20-minute immersive presentation in which students stood inside the car to watch a video that surrounded them on the walls of the car.

Many people shoved into these cars for the treacherous journey did not survive.

“Up to 150 individuals were crammed into locked, windowless box cars and traveled for an average of four days in this state without food, water, restroom facilities or even the ability to sit down. Many deportees died in the cattle cars enroute and for the others, it symbolized the terrifying descent into the darkness that robbed them of their families, freedom and for some, even their lives,” the Shadowlight website describes.

The Nazis used cattle cars to transport Jews and other targeted groups to concentration camps, according to the National Holocaust Memorial Museum (NHMM).

“It is [important] to educate ourselves and the people around us, especially about the Holocaust because history repeats itself,” said Hillel Israel fellow Sharon Brantwein. “Especially when it’s so accessible to just go into an exhibit, we bring everything to the students.”

During the presentation, two Holocaust survivors shared their experience of being transported in the cars and separated from their families upon arrival at the concentration camps, along with reenactments of Jews entering the car. 

The presentation included pictures of Nazi propaganda and living conditions in concentration camps at different points.

“Seeing the videos and the photos of the actual people [at the concentration camps] was very powerful. It got me thinking, ‘how can this happen?,’” said Business Management major Alex King after going through the presentation. 

After the presentation, Hillel Vice President of Holidays Bella Friedman shared her thoughts.

“One main takeaway I got from this was to never forget. But never forget is a very empty term, and it’s more like what should we do after this?” Friedman said. “Even after the Holocaust, there is still anti-semitism. What are we doing after?”

Presentation leaders from Shadowlight asked students to write their thoughts about the exhibit on a large canvas, staged next to the exhibit.

“We hope that this exhibit inspires our FAU community to continually fight against hate and prejudice in our world so that someday, we will work together to truly realize the dream of ‘Never Again,’” said Hillel Rabbi Rose Durbin.

Justine Kantor is the News Editor for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected], or message her on twitter @KantorJustine