13 October 2012, 20th Anniversary banners hang on the 14th street entrance to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

By Rochelle Miller

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. is in a race against time to collect and preserve the evidence of the Holocaust before the last generation of Holocaust survivors is no longer with us and before fragile documents and artifacts disintegrate.

The Museum is continuing its critical effort to rescue the evidence of the Holocaust nationwide and across six continents to ensure that the evidence of the Holocaust is preserved and accessible. The artifacts safeguarded by the museum will serve as the most authentic witness to this crime when the last of the Holocaust survivors, World War II veterans, and other eyewitnesses of the Holocaust are no longer able to provide their firsthand accounts.

The Museum will hold a unique artifact donation opportunity in New York City during the week of National Holocaust Remembrance Day, marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

Individuals or families in New York who are interested in sharing their Holocaust collections, such as photographs, documents, letters, as well as other artifacts that document their Holocaust experiences may contact Fred Wasserman, the museum’s acquisitions curator in New York, at northeast@ushmm.org or 212-983-0825 to schedule an appointment at the New York office January 27–29.

“The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is deeply committed to rescuing the evidence of the Holocaust, and we are hoping to raise awareness about our efforts in the New York region — especially as we recognize that the last generation of Holocaust survivors will sadly soon no longer be here with us,” Wasserman said. “For the past five years, I have served as the museum’s acquisitions curator for the New York region and surrounding areas, and continue to serve as a local resource to Holocaust survivors and their relatives who are considering donating their personal artifacts to the museum.

“Parting with personal pieces of family history that survived the Holocaust is often difficult for people. And yet what I have learned over the years, in meeting with so many donors, is that for most individuals and families, it is an extremely meaningful experience. They greatly appreciate that their treasured documents, photographs, and artifacts — as well as their family’s stories — will be preserved for future generations and safeguarded in perpetuity.”

“Time is of the essence in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s efforts to preserve as much evidence of the Holocaust as possible while we still have the ability to meet with Holocaust survivors,” said Sindy Lugerner, assistant director, development and operations for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. “Given the number of Holocaust survivors in New York and the surrounding area, along with their children and grandchildren, our hope is to raise awareness among this constituency in order to preserve as many artifacts that survived the Holocaust as possible; this historical evidence serves as an integral component of the museum’s education efforts.”

The museum’s David and Fela Shapell Family Collections, Conservation and Research Center offers approximately 80,000 square feet of expanded space of highly specialized laboratories, equipment, and climate-controlled environments to preserve a wide array of fragile Holocaust artifacts.

Rochelle Maruch Miller is a contributing editor for the Five Towns Jewish Times. She is a journalist, creative media consultant, lecturer, and educator, and writes for magazines, newspapers, websites, and private clients. She welcomes your comments at Rochellemiller04@aol.com.

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