In the Collection of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Read below about this Girl Scout sash, which belonged to Rut Hendel (right) shortly after she came to the United States as a refugee.—Gifts of Tamar Hendel-Fishman. Photography: Lisa Masson

It was very difficult to immigrate to the United States in the years before and during World War II. Congress set limits on the maximum number of immigrant visas that could be issued per year to people born in each country. These quotas were designed to limit the immigration of people considered “racially undesirable,” including southern and eastern European Jews.

Potential immigrants to the United States had to collect many types of documents, including proof of identity, police permission, medical clearances, tax documents, a ship ticket, and exit permits prior to obtaining a visa. …

Brothers Emanuel and Avram Rosenthal wear yellow stars in the Kovno ghetto shortly before they were rounded up and killed in March 1944. Their uncle had asked for the photo to be taken and received a copy after the war.—US Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Shraga Wainer

Have you noticed how often people call someone they disagree with a Nazi? Or compare controversial rules and laws to the Nazi persecution of Jews? For Holocaust survivors, these comparisons are not casual references. They evoke the most traumatic moments of their lives: friends who turned on them, a cherished sibling murdered, constant fear because of their identity.

The Holocaust is human history. From it we can learn how societies fail to protect their own and the dangers of unchecked antisemitism and hate. In this digital program, hear survivors describe their personal experiences in video testimony, and explore how careless comparisons can be both painful and dangerous.

Chiune Sugihara sits in his office in China (1933–34). Later, as the vice-consul for Japan in Lithuania, he issued more than 2,000 transit visas to Japan, which permitted Jewish Europeans to flee the Nazi threat.—Courtesy Mr. Nobuki Sugihara

Polish-born Leo Melamed was only eight years old when he landed in Kobe, Japan. After traversing Siberia by train, it was a paradise. In August 1940, Japanese diplomat Chiune Sugihara had issued Leo’s family a visa that helped them escape Soviet occupation and the Nazi threat.

Just a year later, following Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, Japanese Americans were sent to “relocation camps” in the United States. Even as their family members were imprisoned, some joined the American military and helped liberate Nazi camps. In this digital program, learn about these unexpected rescuers and the impact one man’s lifesaving act has had on Leo 80 years since he survived the Holocaust.

Cigarette card titled “Muttergluck” (Joy of Motherhood), which shows Adolf Hitler with a mother and child.—US Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of William O. McWorkman

Women were necessary participants toward the Nazi goal of creating a so-called pure race. Under Hitler’s reign, non-Jewish German mothers who had at least eight children to expand the nation’s population earned golden crosses, a tradition that began on Mother’s Day.

In this digital program, experts discuss how nationalist propaganda and anti-Jewish conspiracy theories converged to persuade women to become key players in the myth of Nazi supremacy. Today, women play the roles of both victim and vehicle in spreading dangerous white supremacist and antisemitic myths that divide our society.

“I wanted the children to feel that the world is still full of good and friendly people, who stretch their hand across oceans and wide countries to help their fellowmen.”—Alice Goldberger in 1957

The colorful and imaginative images featured in this story may look like typical children’s drawings. But the Nazis had stolen much of childhood from these young artists. The intervention of one extraordinary woman gave them back some semblance of a normal life.

Alice Goldberger was a German Jew who fled to the United Kingdom in 1939. …

These photos from the Museum’s collection illustrate the unyielding bond between mothers and their children in both harsh and happier times from the start of World War II and the Holocaust, and in the years after. Facing heartbreaking decisions and an uncertain future, these mothers did everything they could to survive and to ensure the safety of their own children, and in some cases, to protect other children in danger.

US Holocaust Memorial Museum, Julien Bryan Archive


A Polish mother and child amid the rubble on a street in Warsaw, Poland. It had been bombed during the German invasion, marking the start of World War II.

Nazi perpetrator Adolf Eichmann listens as the court declares him guilty on December 15, 1961. —US Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Central Zionist Archives

The televised Israeli trial of Adolf Eichmann in 1961 ignited international awareness of the Holocaust and of the failure to convict many of its perpetrators. Viewers around the world saw survivors who recounted their experiences in a courtroom, emboldening others to speak up and demand justice. They helped inspire new efforts to prosecute perpetrators and to address the pain and loss they caused their victims.

In this digital program, experts discuss the fight for justice for Holocaust victims and their families and how it informs such efforts in the wake of genocide and mass atrocities today.

Photo of Raphael Lemkin. —Arthur Leipzig Estate, courtesy of Howard Greenberg Gallery

Raphael Lemkin, a Polish Jewish lawyer, escaped the Nazis but lost 49 members of his family in the Holocaust. He coined the word genocide in 1944 to describe the deliberate attempt to wipe out a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group. Lemkin devoted the last 15 years of his life to lobbying governments to recognize genocide as an international crime and changed the legal landscape. Despite his impact, he died alone and penniless in 1959.

In this digital program, a researcher and Museum historian discuss Lemkin’s contributions toward helping survivors achieve a measure of justice.

Student members of the University of Chicago Youth Committee against the War are shown with signs in May 1939. —University of Chicago Photographic Archive, apf3–03030, Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library

While growing up in a time of racial segregation and the Great Depression, some young Americans looked beyond the struggles of their own nation to respond to the Nazi threat in Europe. Their actions varied. Students at Yale and other universities led movements opposing US intervention abroad. Some young Americans helped Jewish European refugees, including students in rural Kansas who raised funds for 19-year-old Tom Doeppner to escape Nazi Germany and attend school in America. Others acted overseas, including William Scott, who photographed Nazi atrocities after he was drafted into a segregated US Army unit.

In this digital program, experts discussed the range of actions young Americans took during the Holocaust.

This internet meme depicts the coronavirus as Jewish men. —Courtesy of ADL

Our nation is getting a crash course in conspiracy theories. QAnon has been in the spotlight as the latest iteration. With the rise of social media, the messenger may be new, but the message is not. Conspiracy theories have been around for centuries, well before mass communications amplified their potency. The human desire to explain complicated events in simplistic ways often leads to blaming minorities for them, sometimes with deadly consequences.

People have long attributed extraordinary power and influence to Jews, and names like “the Rothschilds” are stand-ins for an alleged global Jewish conspiracy.

A family of bankers, the real-life…

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Publisher of Memory & Action

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