Didem Doğan

Santiago’s museums: The Museum of Memory and Remembering- Never again

The most memorable moments of my Santiago trip took place here. I am not a citizen of Chile but what is told here is very human; The museum  of Memory tells you the history of the ’73 military coup in Chile. The entrance is free, you may pay for the audio guides if you like. 

At the entrance hall we start by reading about the truth commissions; in which countries, when and for what reasons were founded these commissions. Then we pass to the pictures of the commemoration centres of the coup in different places in Chile. At the first floor on your right the big wall is full with portrait pictures of the people who were disappeared during the military regime. On the left you watch the video taken the day of the coup on the screen with President Salvador Allende’s voice talking to his people on the radio; he was killed that day inside the Parliamentary Palace, La Moneda. In Chile, you may see his pictures every where and hear his voice even on the street vendors booths, saying ‘I am an honest man who is loyal to his people’, he is the leader of Chilean people. 

There are various halls in the museum with lots of information. International documentaries, the newspapers, the detailed stories of the people who were disappeared during the military regime, the reaction of the international arena. You can see some of the objects made by the prisoners, hand made baby dolls, sea horses (the prisoners could not see the day light and the only place they could see it was the toilet where the sun light entered through a hole and looked like a seahorse so it became a symbol, a symbol of hope maybe). 

The hardest part of the visit is the stories of torture. On a big screen divided to six other little screens you watch different people (now much older than the time they were tortured); one by one, telling in a detailed way, how, when, by whom they were tortured. The torture that was simple in the beginning got more systematic later on as the regime got older. One of them says ‘the worst thing is that they make you forget that you’re human.’ It is hard not to cry watching this, but I’m not alone, every one around me is also crying. 

At the top floor you find information about the ‘No’ campaign with posters, videos and that famous ‘No’ song, the referendum that resulted with ‘No’ and started the process of the end of the military junta. You finish the visit in front of those pictures on the wall, those of the disappeared people, in a room surrounded by candle lights to pay respect and to remember and never forget what happened here in Chile. A wonderful, heartbreaking museum, congratulations the people of Chile!

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