Yesterday in class the question arose of whether or not it was the job of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum to promote awareness of global acts of inhumanity occurring today, or if its job is to solely tell the story of the Holocaust through the eyes of its Jewish victims. While I am still unsure of my answer to this question, I can, however, advocate for the continuing importance of having a Holocaust Museum for the American society.
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has been a source of controversy ever since the commission allowing its creation. While the reasoning for having a Holocaust museum in America has been under speculation, the main source of controversy has been the level of atrocity exhibited to the public. The council in charge of creating the museum spent a lot of time determining what level of horror was appropriate for a public audience. After much debate, the Permanent Exhibition of the museum was completed and is the subject of much academic study. One theory in particular, known as postmemory, has focused on the atrocity photos exhibited throughout the Permanent Exhibition. Postmemory has been defined as the transmission through memorialization of a cultural memory of trauma to those who did not witness the event. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum influences postmemory among its visitors through the use of architecture, photographs, education, exhibits, public events, directed movement, and through the museum itself.
We are slowly entering the age where there will be no living survivors and Holocaust memory will only live on through the legacies the survivors have left behind. As Robert Getso states, “The continuity of Holocaust memory can no longer depend on communities and individuals who experienced victimhood or who met the perpetrators.”  Postmemory, therefore, becomes an important mechanism used to ensure the survival of Holocaust memory. It is through these second and third generation “rememberers,” that future generations will learn of the Holocaust and the impact it has had upon American society, and the American public.
The exhibits of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum were designed to teach American of the events which led to unbelievable acts of inhumanity and the murder of millions. Postmemory, the transmission of memory through memorialization of a cultural memory of trauma to those who did not witness the event, plays an important role in maintaining Holocaust memory. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum purposely manipulates postmemory in museum goers, and it is my belief that other institutions will also begin to manipulate viewer repsonses in order to ensure an unforgettable connection with history and the past. Postmemory is becoming the memory of today, the memory of those who do not have firsthand accounts of the events of history. Postmemory is how we, as the second and third generations, remember the atrocious events of the Holocaust.
 Robert Getso, “Revisting Holocaust Memorialization,” Peace Review, v. 19, #2, Apr-June 2007, 249.