Tuesday June 18, 2019

Artifacts in US Holocaust Memorial Museum Preserve Holocaust Stories for Future Generations

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A conservator at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum's conservation and research center points out a hidden pocket on a piece of clothing worn by a prisoner at a Nazi concentration camp. VOA

April 25, 2017: The small wicker doll chair was a modest toy, but it meant the world to Louise Lawrence-Israels. A gift for her second birthday, it was the only toy she possessed during the approximately three years she spent hiding from the Nazis in Amsterdam, just five blocks from the house where Anne Frank wrote in her diary.

The chair is one of thousands of artifacts housed in the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s new conservation and research center, which opened Monday on the annual memorial day for the 6 million Jews killed by Nazi Germany during World War II.

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“It was a big thing for me to actually give the chair, because it was a significant thing,” said Lawrence-Israels, 75, one of about two dozen Holocaust survivors who attended the center’s opening. “A lot of people can look at it and see how it was for a little child in hiding.”

The David and Fela Shapell Family Collections, Conservation and Research Center, located in the suburbs of the nation’s capital, is a state-of-the-art facility with 103,000 square feet (9,570 sq. meters) for documents and artifacts, with room for expansion.

The center houses thousands of items in eight climate-controlled vaults in a building designed to withstand tornadoes and hurricanes. Its collection includes everyday objects, from children’s toys and clothes to sewing machines used in concentration camps.

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Travis Roxlau, director of collections services, said center officials have spent 25 years gathering the items.

“We collect stories, and all of the objects that go along with those stories, because as the surviving generation passes on, these are going to be the objects that are left to help us tell the history of the Holocaust,” Roxlau said.

Survivors say the center’s holdings are critical to preserving the reality of the Holocaust.

“I think the most important thing is to make sure that the memory of the Holocaust isn’t forgotten,” said Alfred Munzer, 75, who donated a silver teething ring that went with him at the age of nine months when he was put into hiding with a Dutch-Indonesian family in the Netherlands in 1942. He also donated two small photographs of him that his mother kept hidden while she was confined in concentration camps.

Munzer, of Washington, D.C., said the center and its artifacts will serve “as a lesson to the world as to where hate can lead to.”

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Lawrence-Israels, of Bethesda, Maryland, noted that she and other Holocaust survivors are “not going to be here forever, and once we’re not here anymore the museum and this institution will speak for us.”

“This is the only evidence that we leave behind, and with the climate today it’s important that people see that this was real,” Lawrence-Israels said.

Scholars and researchers will have access to materials in the facility. A reading room is scheduled to open in the next year. The museum also is in the process of making documents and images available online. (VOA)

Next Story

Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula To Delete Tatar Collaboration From Crimean History Textbook

The pages that are to be removed include a claim that the majority of Crimean Tatars "were loyal to" the Nazis, and that "many actively helped them."

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Russian Authorities To Remove Tatar Collaboration Slur From Crimean History Textbook RFERL

The Russian authorities who control Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula have promised to remove a section of a high-school history textbook that claims many Crimean Tatars collaborated with Nazi Germany during World War II.

The senior education official in the Russian-imposed government of Crimea, Natalya Goncharova, said on May 6 that the pages in question would be removed from the 10th-grade textbook History Of Crimea by the end of the month.

Educators and lawyers — some of them members of the indigenous, mainly Muslim Crimean Tatar minority — have urged the authorities to remove the book from the curriculum, saying that it threatens to incite ethnic and religious hatred among teenagers.

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Russia seized control of the peninsula in March 2014, sending in troops without insignia, securing key facilities, and staging a referendum deemed illegitimate by Ukraine and most other world countries. Pixabay

The pages that are to be removed include a claim that the majority of Crimean Tatars “were loyal to” the Nazis, and that “many actively helped them.”

The claim echoes the pretext that Soviet dictator Josef Stalin’s government used when it deported Crimean Tatars en masse from the Black Sea peninsula in 1944, asserting that they were collaborators.

Many died on the journey or in exile in Central Asia and the steppes of southern Russia.

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The senior education official in the Russian-imposed government of Crimea, Natalya Goncharova, said on May 6 that the pages in question would be removed from the 10th-grade textbook History Of Crimea by the end of the month.Pixabay

Crimean Tatars were allowed to begin returning to their homeland in the late 1980s, and make up some 12 percent of its population.

Also Read: Concentration Camps: Uyghurs Chafed Under Tough Chinese Controls During Ramadan

Russia seized control of the peninsula in March 2014, sending in troops without insignia, securing key facilities, and staging a referendum deemed illegitimate by Ukraine and most other world countries.

Rights groups and Western governments say Russia has conducted a persistent campaign of oppression targeting Crimean Tatars and other citizens who opposed Moscow’s takeover of the peninsula. (RFERL)