Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Memory and Hope: Plans for new Bilingual Holocaust Museum in Hollywood, FL

Posted by Ann Rabinowitz

The Holocaust Documentation and Education Center

With South Florida having one of the largest Jewish populations in America, it is not surprising that there have been several Jewish institutions created in the last several years to serve both the residents and visitors to this area. These have included a Jewish Museum of Florida <http://www.jewishmuseum.com/> and a Holocaust Memorial <http://www.holocaustmmb.org/>, both in Miami Beach, FL, as well as the Holocaust Documentation and Education Center <http://www.hdec.org/> in Hollywood, FL.

The one major component which was missing has been an actual Holocaust Museum. Plans have now been unveiled for the transformation of the Holocaust Documentation and Education Center, located at 2031 Harrison Street in Hollywood, FL, into the nation’s first bilingual (English/Spanish) Holocaust Museum. This new facility will provide a permanent home for the many items collected by the Center.

It is anticipated that the bilingual aspect will be well-received as South Florida is the gateway to Latin America. Many individuals went to Latin America when they could not get into America and a number of survivors went to Latin America after World War II. Now, they and their children visit South Florida on vacation or some have even moved to South Florida. The large Jewish Cuban (aka “Jewban”) population in South Florida is also expected to support this new bilingual Museum.

The facility will be opened in approximately two years depending on the raising of the necessary $21 million in funding for such a venture. The Holocaust Documentation and Education Center, which was founded in 1980, has a verisimilitude of items including their collection of artifacts, documents, remarkable trove of eyewitness testimonies of Survivors, Liberators, and Rescuers, photographs and a reconstructed Polish rail car.

The rail car <http://www.justnews.com/video/23716150/index.html> can be seen below and will find a place in the educational exhibits in the new Museum.


The newly designed Museum will provide a home for all of these things as well as focus on the journey of the S.S. St. Louis. The journey is a singular Holocaust experience with a real life tie to South Florida.

The S.S. St. Louis

The S.S. St. Louis <http://www.ushmm.org/museum/exhibit/online/stlouis/> made its way from Hamburg, Germany, to Havana, Cuba, on May 13, 1939, with 937 passengers, mainly Jews attempting to escape Nazi Germany. When refused entry into Cuba, the ship sailed close along the coast of Florida hoping to be allowed entry into the United States at one of the ports such as Miami. It idled for two hours within sight of Miami Beach, FL, but on June 6, 1939, it was refused entry and was forced to return to Antwerp, Belgium, on June 17, 1939. Subsequent to the ship’s arrival in Europe approximately 254 of its passengers were later killed by the Nazis.

A rendering which follows provides a bird’s eye view of what the new museum will look like. The plan is that the Holocaust Documentation and Education Center will be connected to a new structure where the majority of the Museum activities will take place.

Much of what will be done to create an enriched learning and experiential environment in the Museum can be seen in the following document <http://www.hdec.org/images/2010_01_31_combined_boards.pdf>.

Plans are to obtain further artifacts donations from survivors and their children which will find a welcoming home at the Museum. In addition, the invaluable assistance of rabbis as well as health care professionals, lawyers, financial planers, and insurance personnel, who may know of such artifacts their clients may have, will be sought.

Further information can be obtained from Executive Vice President Rositta Ehrlich Kenigsberg, (954) 929-5690 or email the Museum at info@hdec.org.

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