Remember. Honor. Act. Make A Difference.
The remembrance of the Holocaust continues to resonate with a St. Louis museum that is recognizing its 20th anniversary this summer. The Holocaust Museum and Learning Center, a department of the Jewish Federation of St. Louis, was established in April 1995, will observe this milestone at a special anniversary dinner on August 20. Holocaust survivors, their children and grandchildren and supporters of the Museum will be among those attending this open-to-the-public event. The theme Remember. Honor. Act. Make a Difference will be woven throughout the evening’s program as attendees will be asked to remember those who perished during the Holocaust, honor those who survived, take action when they see social injustice occur and to make a difference in our world today.
The Museum is the area’s most comprehensive source for educational materials and programs about the Holocaust, and it honors the memory of millions of innocent men, women and children who suffered or died as a result. It provides community awareness, information, audio-visual support and education about the Holocaust, but its broader mission is to examine intolerance, ranging from genocide to bullying, hate crimes and discrimination, to share the inherent worth and dignity of human life to prevent future atrocities.
“Today, there is a rise in Holocaust denial and antisemitism, as well as genocide and threats of genocide throughout the world,” says Jean Cavender, Museum director. “Our goal is to teach the public about the dangers of apathy, hatred and prejudice.”
Since its opening, the Holocaust Museum and Learning Center has welcomed nearly one-half million visitors, including school children, international visitors and government officials. The Museum’s 5,000-square-foot core exhibition provides a chronological history of the Holocaust with personal accounts of survivors who immigrated to St. Louis. Photographs, artifacts, text panels, and audio-visual displays guide visitors through pre-war Jewish life in Europe, the rise of Nazism, Holocaust events from 1933-1945, post-war events including the Nuremberg Trials, and survivor’s renewal of life after the Holocaust. In 2012, the Museum installed its newest interactive exhibition entitled Change Begins with Me: Confronting Hate, Discrimination and Ethnic Conflict. In addition, the Museum provides access to videos, CDs and DVDs, as well as 400 taped interviews with local survivors and liberators.
“The Museum is a living memorial of what happened, and when I am here I feel driven to educate people, especially kids in middle school, high school and young adults, about the Holocaust so nothing like this ever happens again,” said Holocaust survivor Mendel Rosenberg who lives in Creve Coeur, MO.
Rosenberg, now in his 80s, was only 13 years old when Nazis took him from his Lithuanian home and put him in a concentration camp. “They treated us like animals,” he recalled. “When I look at the way we treat our dogs and cats in the United States, we treat them better than they treated us in Germany in the concentration camps.” He was a prisoner until age 16, lost his father at the beginning of the war and his brother in the concentration camp, and was fortunately reunited with his mom when he was 18. Rosenberg spends his time telling his story to visitors of the St. Louis Holocaust Museum and will be in attendance at the anniversary event.
Gerda Nothmann Luner was 16 when she was put in a concentration camp. She was the only member of her immediate family to survive the Holocaust. Her parents, grandparents, sister and the Dutch foster family she lived with for a time were all murdered by the Nazis in 1943. Luner passed away in 1999, but her daughter, Vera Emmons, is active with the Museum. Along with volunteering as a docent, Emmons shares her mother’s experiences with a slide presentation that includes segments of her mother’s 1995 oral testimony. Through this presentation she can recount her mother’s story and educate people about the Holocaust when survivors are not able to be at the Museum. The inclusion of her testimony adds a survivor’s voice even when one cannot be present.
“As a second-generation survivor, I have been given a platform at the Museum to educate, to keep my mom’s story alive and to actively participate in remembering the past, teaching its lessons, so that such a terrible event can never be repeated,” said Emmons.
The Museum offers specialized programs to educators who have little or no experience teaching about the Holocaust, as well as programs for law enforcement personnel to help them examine their roles during the Holocaust and the implications of their positions in contemporary society.
In its 20 years, the Holocaust Museum and Learning Center has accomplished a great deal, including:
- Touring approximately one-half million people by the end of 2015
- In partnership with the Anti-Defamation League, providing specialized training for over 3,000 police cadets and veteran officers from area law enforcement agencies
- Training more than 2,000 educators through teacher conferences and its Staenberg Education Trunk program, meaning 32,000 students annually have experienced this enhanced Holocaust curriculum
- Receiving 700 – 1,200 submissions annually for its art and writing contest
- Digitizing its collection of 400 taped survivor testimonies to preserve their memories for future generations
- Bringing Holocaust education to new audiences through film, features and documentaries that are part of the Sandra and Mendel Rosenberg Film Series, viewed by more than 1,200 visitors annually
- Drawing approximately 800 people annually to honor survivors and remember those who perished during the Holocaust at the Museum’s annual Yom HaShoah Commemoration
- Installing the Change Begins with Me exhibition, giving the Museum the ability to focus on issues related to hate, discrimination and ethnic conflict in our world today
- Being recognized in 2015 for making a difference in our community by receiving the “What’s Right with the Region!” award from Focus St. Louis
For information about how to purchase tickets to attend The Holocaust Museum and Learning Center anniversary dinner on August 20 go to HMLC.org and click on events or contact Andrew Goldfeder at 314-442-3711.
About The Holocaust Museum and Learning Center
The Holocaust Museum and Learning Center is located at 12 Millstone Campus Drive in the Jewish Federation of St. Louis Kopolow Building in Creve Coeur, Missouri. Admittance to the Museum and its programs are free of charge and open to the public. The facility is also wheelchair accessible. Audio tours are available, and free parking is available on site. Reservations are required for groups of 10 or more, and pre-arranged guided tours are available for groups. Holocaust survivors are available to speak, both on site and within the community, to groups through a speaker’s bureau. For a list of programs, events and Museum hours, go to HMLC.org or call 314-442-3711 for additional information.