Holocaust exhibit to open at AU
FAYETTEVILLE — “Americans and the Holocaust: A Traveling Exhibit for Libraries” will open next week at the David W. Mullins Library, the only time the exhibit will be in Arkansas during its tour of the country.
The exhibit only stops at 50 locations, and the University of Arkansas campus in Fayetteville was chosen as the Arkansas location, said Kara Flynn, archivist of education and engagement. , Special Collections, University Libraries at UA-Fayetteville.
The exhibit is an educational initiative of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, and the American Library Association, a national organization that provides resources for library and information professionals to transform their communities through programs and services. More information can be found online at https://bit.ly/3sYuXZh.
It’s the “travelling version of an exhibit” created at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2018 and “gives people a chance to have this experience even if they never make it to Washington,” Flynn said. The Washington museum exhibit helped inspire “America and the Holocaust,” a film by Ken Burns, Lynn Novick and Sarah Botstein that premiered on PBS earlier this year.
“We decided it was really important to create a travel version of it for people who can’t get to [Washington]because it connects American history and the history of the Holocaust in a way that can really speak to American audiences,” said JoAnna Wasserman, director of educational initiatives at the William Levine Family Institute for Holocaust Education, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. “It is not [focused on] Europe, but what was going on here.”
The traveling exhibit “covers much of the content and major events of the Holocaust and World War II that people may be familiar with, but the focus is Americans’ reactions and responses” to Nazism, war and genocide in Europe in the 1930s and 1940s, says Flynn. The exhibit “is about asking questions and promoting critical thinking and discussion, not conclusions.”
It considers the myriad of factors that have shaped the American response, from a philosophy of isolationism to pressure from the Great Depression to restrictive immigration laws that had been in place for decades, she said. It also highlights individuals and groups who tried to help the refugees, although “unfortunately there were too few of them”.
About 6 million Jews were murdered during the genocide by Nazi Germany and its collaborators, but Roma, Poles, Ukrainians, Soviet civilians and prisoners of war, Jehovah’s Witnesses, black people, people with disabilities , communists and homosexuals were also targeted in the systematic mass shooting.
The exhibit opens Thursday and will be on display until December 8 at the Mullins Library, the university’s main research library and largest library on campus.
Bringing this exhibit to Arkansas is critical, because “our state historically hasn’t had the best Holocaust education,” Flynn said. In fact, it wasn’t until the spring of 2021 that the Arkansas legislature passed a bill requiring Holocaust education in public schools.
Individuals can access the exhibit on their own or take guided tours, she said. The exhibit will be open nightly until 6 p.m. and every morning during Mullins Library hours — which can be found online at https://libraries.uark.edu/hours/mullins.php — while tours can be arranged at https://uark.libguides.com/AATH. This latest website also has additional supporting materials, such as resource guides for teachers, Flynn said.
Interactivity is a strong point, including maps and timelines, but also access to newspapers from various states from the 1930s and 1940s, she said. Visitors can see how the Holocaust, World War II and other events in Europe were covered in the United States
The examples of news coverage from each state from the era covered in the exhibit “are a big lesson,” as are the individual stories, Wasserman said.
The exhibit also provides public polling data from the period, Flynn said. “You can see how Americans were reacting – what they were thinking – at that time.”
The original exhibit at the Washington museum was informed by “a lot of new research,” which is also key to the traveling exhibit, Wasserman said. “We learned a lot about the information available at that time, and we are trying to correct some misconceptions.”
For example, “the assumption that most Americans had no idea what was going on [in Europe] is not true,” she said. “If you were paying attention, you knew that, but we were a very isolationist country at that time.”
Previously, exhibits like this mostly stopped at museums, but this time public and campus libraries are the focus, she said. “We wanted to take it to places where there might be more exposure and places where people might go for other reasons” because the goal is to reach “audiences who may be underserved by the ‘Holocaust education’.
More than 250 sites have applied to host the exhibit, Jason Battles, dean of academic libraries, said in a press release.
Entities interested in hosting the exhibition had to “fill out a detailed application” on why they should be selected, as well as the programming of the shoulders, Wasserman said. The exhibition itself, as well as the events associated with it, have already made it possible “to forge many links in the communities”.
Communities and individuals connect the history of the Holocaust to modern genocide, as well as the need to help refugees from places like Ukraine, she said. By highlighting the stories of individuals who tried to help during the Holocaust, the exhibition is a reminder of the power of the individual.
The American Library Association asked the hosts of the exhibition to provide local accompanying programming.
When the exhibit traveled to Hawaii, that state also offered resources and information about the attack on the Pearl Harbor naval base that led to the United States’ declaration of war on Japan – and his official entry into World War II.
In Arkansas, additional information is directed at Japanese-American incarceration camps, documenting the experiences of those individuals, she said. There were two such camps in Arkansas during World War II, and the World War II Japanese American Internment Museum – part of the Heritage Sites Office of the State University of Arkansas – is in McGehee.
There will be an opening reception at the Mullins Library on Thursday from 4.30pm to 6.30pm and a screening of the film ‘Prelude to War’ – a film directed by Frank Capra and aimed at rallying support for the US intervention in WWII — at 7 p.m. Nov. 16 at the Pryor Center for Arkansas Oral and Visual History, said Kelsey Lovewell Lippard, director of public relations, University Libraries. There will also be a panel discussion on the Holocaust at the library from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on December 1, and a guest speaker will share her family’s experiences during World War II at 6 p.m. on December 7 at the library. Fayetteville public.
Laurence Hare, associate professor of history at UA-Fayetteville and director of the International and Global Studies program, will speak at 5:15 p.m. during the opening reception, while Frank Scheide, professor of communications, will lead the screening. of “Prelude to War” and a discussion of the film, according to the university.
Additionally, the Springdale Public Library will host a free public forum Sunday at 1:30 p.m. titled “The United States and the Holocaust: Immigration Then and Now,” in partnership with Arkansas PBS and the ‘Arkansas Holocaust Education Committee. The event will feature selected clips from “America and the Holocaust,” as well as a discussion “focusing on issues such as xenophobia, anti-Semitism, immigration quotas,” and more.