We've been taught about it at school, seen its horrors depicted in Hollywood films and read the thoughts of those who were forced to experience it.
But how many of you have come face-to-face with a Holocaust survivor, who will willingly show you the number tattooed on their arm and tell you about the nightmare they lived through while in a Nazi concentration camp?
The Jewish Holocaust Museum and Research Centre, based in Elsternwick and recently redeveloped in July 2010, gives you a chance to learn about the murder of over 6 million Jews during the Second World War, and see the effects hatred and intolerance can have on a culture.
The museum is open from 12-4pm on Sundays with free entry, although donations are welcomed. The Centre recommends that visitors set aside two hours to see the main exhibits, with extra time for special or temporary exhibitions that may be showing simultaneously.
Volunteer guides are present to answer visitors' questions and provide insight into all areas of the Holocaust. Many of the guides are Holocaust survivors themselves and will willingly share their experiences with those who wish to learn more.
Asking Holocaust survivors to tell their personal stories is, admittedly, a confronting task for many visitors, and I was quite reluctant to ask my guide personal questions about her life in a concentration camp.
Luckily, my guide was content to break the ice first – she asked if I wanted to see the tattoo the Nazis gave her as a teenager, which of course I did but was too afraid to ask.
My guide was not offended or upset at my curiosity. In fact, it might seem counter-intuitive, but if you are willing to listen and are respectful, the guides will show you a side of the Holocaust than you can never learn from a film or in a classroom.
The museum itself contains a wide variety of exhibits, including audio-visual displays, photographs, music, artwork by survivors and personal effects from the Holocaust era.
The emphasis the Centre places on the human element of the Holocaust is the most important part of the exhibit, and you will leave feeling sombre, yet awe-struck by the survival of Jewish culture despite the horrific brutality and anti-Semitism that emerged in the early twentieth century.
The Centre also has a number of professional development seminars, special events and public lectures, school events and a resource library for those interested in researching their family history or delving further into the history of the Holocaust.
As an educational experience, the Jewish Holocaust Museum and Research Centre provides deep insight into an event that most of us prefer to skim over and put in the back of our minds. It is challenging and at times can be disturbing, but it is ultimately rewarding and reminds visitors of the privileges they have living in a peaceful and multicultural city like Melbourne