Skip to main content

Holocaust artifacts bear witness

By Suzy Snyder, Special to CNN
updated 8:12 PM EDT, Tue June 11, 2013
U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum textile conservator Cynthia Hughes carefully handles a concentration camp uniform that had been worn by a Holocaust survivor. The museum embarked on a national tour this year to commemorate its 20th anniversary. Curators were on hand to review and collect artifacts. U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum textile conservator Cynthia Hughes carefully handles a concentration camp uniform that had been worn by a Holocaust survivor. The museum embarked on a national tour this year to commemorate its 20th anniversary. Curators were on hand to review and collect artifacts.
HIDE CAPTION
Photos: Donations to the Holocaust museum
Donations to the Holocaust museum
Donations to the Holocaust museum
Donations to the Holocaust museum
Donations to the Holocaust museum
Donations to the Holocaust museum
Donations to the Holocaust museum
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum has been on a 20th anniversary four-city tour
  • Museum collects artifacts from survivors and their families to add to its collections
  • Suzy Snyder: When survivors are gone, artifacts, documents, photos and films will tell the story

Editor's note: Suzy Snyder is curator at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

(CNN) -- The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum's ability to teach the lessons of the Holocaust to future generations relies on its collections. The museum has been on a 20th anniversary four-city tour to engage the public and gather artifacts that tell survivors' stories in vivid, lasting and personal ways.

The museum held a historic gathering of Holocaust survivors and World War II veterans in Washington for a national marking of its 20th anniversary.

The road trip started in Boca Raton, Florida, and continued in Los Angeles and New York. Now we're in Chicago, where Sunday, June 9, the museum will hold a daylong public event with many opportunities to engage with museum resources, people, and programs, and pay tribute to local Holocaust survivors and World War II veterans.

Suzy Snyder
Suzy Snyder
The race to rescue Holocaust relics

In Los Angeles, we met a woman who was born in 1939, after her father was deported from Vienna, Austria, to the concentration camps, where he spent the next five years.

Her mother and grandmother worked for the Jewish community and were never deported from Vienna. This woman spent her childhood in the hospital of the Viennese Jewish community, where her mother managed to survive and keep them from being deported.

7 life lessons from a Holocaust survivor

It was amazing that three generations of Jewish women managed to survive Nazi occupation. It is extremely unusual. They had to care for themselves, surviving day to day, and care for their very young child. It seems unfathomable they made it.

In New York, a family donated letters and artifacts from their uncle and his wife, who were on the S.S. St. Louis, a ship that in 1939 left Hamburg, Germany, bound for the Americas with about 900 Jews aboard fleeing the Nazis. The were refused entry into Cuba and the United States and headed back to Europe, where many of them eventually wound up in the hands of the Nazis. The uncle and his wife were deported to concentration camps. The wife survived; the husband perished.

When the survivors and other witnesses to the crimes of Nazi Germany are no longer able to tell their stories, it will be the collections -- artifacts, documents, pictures, films -- that will help transmit this history and its lessons.

That's why we're racing to rescue the evidence of the Holocaust by working in 40 countries to preserve these materials.

Elie Wiesel: Faith in the messenger

To date our collections include more than 17,250 objects, 68.1 million pages of documentation, 135 million digital images from the International Tracing Service, 87,500 photographs and images and more than 1,030 hours of video footage. We expect our collections to double in size over the next decade.

The Museum's 20th anniversary is bringing Holocaust history to communities nationwide. Each tour stop featured programming that explores the history of the Holocaust and looks at why it remains so relevant for us today.

Even if people cannot attend a tour stop or do not have collections to donate, people can still get involved. The Museum has developed 20 actions that anyone, anywhere can take to help preserve Holocaust memory and apply its lessons today. Visit ushmm.org/neveragain to see how you can participate. You can also see highlights from the previous tour stops and the National Tribute to Holocaust Survivors and World War II veterans.

We will continue to examine issues like the dangers of hate and indifference, the threats of continuing mass violence and genocide and what we can do about them. We want people to understand this history and move from asking "What would I have done?" to "What will I do?"

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Suzy Snyder

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 2:49 PM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
Kathleen Blee says the KKK and white power or neo-Nazi groups give haters the purpose and urgency to use violence.
updated 7:56 AM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse and Rep. Henry Waxman say read deep, and you'll see the federal Keystone pipeline report spells out the pipeline is bad news
updated 7:53 AM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
Frida Ghitis says President Obama needs to stop making empty threats against Russia and consider other options
updated 5:29 PM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
Peter Bergen and David Sterman say the Kansas Jewish Center killings are part of a string of lethal violence in the U.S. that outstrips al Qaeda-influenced attacks. Why don't we pay more attention?
updated 12:41 PM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
Danny Cevallos says families of the passengers on Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 need legal counsel
updated 11:23 AM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
David Frum says Russia is on a rampage of mischief while Western leaders and Western alliances charged with keeping the peace hem and haw
updated 7:56 AM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
Most adults make the mistakes of hitting the snooze button and of checking emails first thing in the morning, writes Mel Robbins
updated 1:54 PM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
David Wheeler says as middle-class careers continue to disappear, we need a monthly cash payment to everyone
updated 7:55 AM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
Democrats need to show more political spine when it comes to the issue of taxes.
updated 11:55 AM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
Donna Brazile recalls the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act as four presidents honored the heroes of the movement and Lyndon Johnson, who signed the law
updated 9:17 AM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
Elmer Smith remembers Chuck Stone, the legendary journalist from Philadelphia who was known as a thorn in the side of police and an advocate for the little guy
updated 2:56 PM EDT, Sun April 13, 2014
Al Franken says Comcast, the nation's largest cable provider, wants to acquire Time Warner Cable, the nation's second-largest cable provider. Should we be concerned?
updated 11:22 AM EDT, Fri April 11, 2014
Philip Cook and Kristin Goss says the Pennsylvania stabbing attack, which caused grave injury -- but not death, carries a lesson on guns for policymakers
updated 3:06 PM EDT, Fri April 11, 2014
Wikipedia lists 105 football movies, but all too many of them are forgettable, writes Mike Downey
updated 10:32 AM EDT, Fri April 11, 2014
John Sutter and hundreds of iReporters set out to run marathons after the bombings -- and learned a lot about the culture of running
updated 12:49 PM EDT, Fri April 11, 2014
Timothy Stanley says it was cowardly to withdraw the offer of an honorary degree to Ayaan Hirsi Ali. The university should have done its homework on her narrow views and not made the offer
updated 10:16 AM EDT, Fri April 11, 2014
Al Awlaki
Almost three years after his death in a 2011 CIA drone strike in Yemen, Anwar al-Awlaki continues to inspire violent jihadist extremists in the U.S, writes Peter Bergen
updated 9:21 PM EDT, Fri April 11, 2014
David Bianculli says Colbert is a smart, funny interviewer, but ditching his blowhard persona to take over the mainstream late-night role may cost him fans
updated 1:31 PM EDT, Thu April 10, 2014
Rep. Paul Ryan says the Republican budget places its trust in the people, not in Washington
updated 5:28 PM EDT, Thu April 10, 2014
Aaron David Miller says Obama isn't to blame for Kerry's lack of progress in resolving Mideast talks
updated 11:22 AM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
David Weinberger says beyond focusing on the horrors of the attack a year ago, it's worth remembering the lessons it taught about strength, the dangers of idle speculation and Boston's solidarity
updated 12:32 PM EDT, Thu April 10, 2014
Katherine Newman says the motive for the school stabbing attack in Pennsylvania is not yet known, but research on such rampages turns up similarities in suspects and circumstances
updated 7:03 AM EDT, Fri April 11, 2014
Simon Tisdall: Has John Kerry's recent track record left Russia's wily leader ever more convinced of U.S. weakness?
updated 12:40 PM EDT, Thu April 10, 2014
Mel Robbins says Nate Scimio deserves credit for acting bravely in a frightening attack and shouldn't be criticized for posting a selfie afterward
updated 2:39 PM EDT, Wed April 9, 2014
Wendy Townsend says the Rattlesnake Roundup -- where thousands of pounds of snakes are killed and tormented -- is barbaric
updated 9:45 AM EDT, Thu April 10, 2014
Dr. Mary Mulcahy says doctors who tell their patients the truth risk getting bad ratings from them
updated 9:28 AM EDT, Wed April 9, 2014
Peggy Drexler says the married Rep. McAllister, caught on video making out with a staffer, won't get a pass from voters who elected him as a Christian conservative with family values
updated 7:43 AM EDT, Wed April 9, 2014
David Frum says the president has failed to react strongly to crises in Iran, Syria, Ukraine and Venezuela, encouraging others to act out
updated 4:57 PM EDT, Wed April 9, 2014
Eric Liu says Paul Ryan gets it very wrong: The U.S.'s problem is not a culture of poverty, it is a culture of wealth that is destroying the American value linking work and reward
updated 7:51 AM EDT, Wed April 9, 2014
Frida Ghitis writes: "We are still seeing the world mostly through men's eyes. We are still hearing it explained to us mostly by men."
updated 10:08 AM EDT, Thu April 10, 2014
Chester Wisniewski says the Heartbleed bug shows how we're all tangled together, relying on each other for Internet security
updated 3:26 PM EDT, Wed April 9, 2014
Danny Cevallos says an Ohio school that suspended a little kid for pointing his finger at another kid and pretending to shoot shows the growth in "zero tolerance" policies at school run amok
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT