Artifacts tell a unique story - a tangible piece of history, often personal. Almost all of the artifacts that are in our collection are from local Holocaust survivors. See these objects (and many more) and read their stories at the Holocaust Center for Humanity.
The Bloch (later Block) family escaped the encroaching Nazi influence on Czechoslovakia in 1938 and landed in New York City in December of that year. The family's beloved black schnauzer dog, Jerry, had to be left behind. Peter Block, then an infant, was given this hand-carved dog to remember Jerry. After arriving in the United States, the family got a similar schnauzer, whom they named Inky.
In 1940, the Schwarz family escaped their home near Berlin, Germany and immigrated to Shanghai, China. Heinz, age 13, joined the Shanghai chapter of the Boy Scouts. After the war, Heinz and his family settled in Seattle.
On May 5, 1945, a resistance group, the Regiment Danforce, made up of Swedish and Danish citizens, entered Denmark to help liberate the country from the German occupation. Martin Metzon, a young Danish Jew, wore this armband to show he was part of the liberating troops. Metzon had fled Denmark in 1943 for the relative safety of Sweden. In 1953, he settled in Seattle.
The owner of this swastika pin donated it to the Holocaust Center with a remarkable story. Following Kristallnacht, a Jewish couple handmade the pin to help feign Nazi allegiance. They managed to survive with fake IDs and in hiding. While working in Berlin for the UN after World War II, the pin's donor helped resettle the two survivors, and they bestowed the pin to her in gratitude. A close look reveals that the swastika's arms display a small piece of resistance: they hook to the left rather than the right, as was typical.
This framed photograph of Holocaust survivor Fred Roer's great grandparents hung in their family home in Kerpen, Germany. The photograph was struck by an ax during the violent pogrom (riot) on Jewish homes and businesses, known as Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass), November 9-10, 1938.
This letter to Fritz Köhler from the Mayor's Office of Darmstadt, Germany, reads:
"Your request to include your company as a business to distribute products under the Proclamation [Regulation] of December 9, 1933 unfortunately cannot be approved despite your position as a 'fighter on the front' [during the First World War] because according the Reich Minister of Finance's determination: non-Aryan business owners can only be included if they were severely wounded."
This letter is unique for its relatively early date. Following 1933, Jews were forbidden to conduct business in Germany, one of a number of restrictions enacted by the Nazi Government limiting the rights of Jews, leading to their loss of citizenship altogether.
Pribram, Czech Republic
The Holocaust Center’s exhibit now includes a Torah rescued from Pribram, Czechoslovakia and provided to the museum by the Memorial Scrolls Trust.
In 1942, Jewish communities throughout Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia sent their religious objects to Prague to protect them from being lost, destroyed or stolen by the Nazis.
1,564 Torah Scrolls were saved. After the war, the Torahs were left in storage, mostly abandoned until British philanthropists purchased the collection from the Czech government in 1964 and created the Czech Memorial Scrolls Trust. From London, scrolls have been loaned to communities and museums around the world.