Last Sunday it was the turn of Jewish London. First the newly opened Freud Museum at Hampstead, devoted to the extraordinary story of the founder of psychoanalysis, and preserved as though Sigmund had just popped out between appointments to pick up supplies of his beloved cigars.
Next, the two branches of the Jewish Museum. One is housed in a handsome Georgian terrace in Camden Town, and for gentiles provides an excellent introduction to Judaic traditions. The other part of the museum, further north in Finchley, focuses on the Jewish community in London.
A series of displays outlines the story of a society that flourishes despite waves of oppression; it was shocking to discover that Britain's 1905 Aliens Act was aimed squarely at ending Jewish immigration. Then you climb the stairs to the most sobering gallery of all.
"Leon Greenman: Auschwitz survivor 98288" tells the story of a Londoner who found himself in the wrong place at the worst possible time. Mr Greenman plus his wife and young son were staying with relatives in Rotterdam when the Nazis invaded the Netherlands.
Each tragic episode, from arrest to Auschwitz, is related in a matter- of-fact manner, which makes the story of Mr Greenman's separation from his family all the more powerful. You learn that his wife and child were gassed at the concentration camp, while he survived - partly because he was regarded as a suitable human guinea-pig for medical experiments.
Just as you are concluding that looking through the eyes of a single victim is an immensely powerful way to learn about the Holocaust, a small figure with a smaller voice bids you a good afternoon.
"If there's anything more I can tell you, just ask."
Mr Greenman, now aged 85, returned to London after the war, and has devoted his energies to fighting Fascism. He still suffers attacks from Combat 18 thugs. Fifteen months ago, the Jewish Museum decided that the best way to bring home the horror of the Holocaust to Londoners was to focus on his story. Not only did Mr Greenman permit his most precious possessions to go on display - including his wife's wedding dress - but he offered to turn up in person.
Each Sunday, he leaves his home in Ilford, east London, for the two-hour journey to the museum in Finchley. He sits quietly at the end of the gallery, patiently answering visitors' questions. The one I couldn't ask, because I could find no way of formulating it without sounding banal, was where a man can find such reserves of courage?
Freud Museum: 0171-435 2002.
Jewish Museum, Camden Town: 0171-284 1997.
Jewish Museum, Finchley: 0181-349 1143.Reuse content