April 29, 2008
UNITED STATES HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL MUSEUM’S ANNUAL NATIONAL TRIBUTE DINNER HONORS ERIC AND LORE ROSS AND FATHER PATRICK DESBOIS
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s 2008 National Tribute Dinner will honor Eric and Lore Ross, of South Orange, New Jersey, for their unparalleled support of the Museum, and Father Patrick Desbois for his pioneering work in memorializing the Holocaust in Ukraine. The National Tribute Dinner will be held on Wednesday, April 30, at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Washington, D.C.
“We are honoring three extraordinary individuals, each passionately dedicated to Holocaust memory in the 21st century,” says Museum Director Sara J. Bloomfield. “Eric and Lore Ross have demonstrated exceptional philanthropic leadership for the Museum, setting a new standard for our institution. Father Desbois has done more than any single individual to restore the memory of the first victims of mass killings and has honored these lost Jewish men, women and children in the most astonishing way.”
The Rosses are the Museum’s largest donors whose gifts total more than $12 million. They are the inaugural members of the Museum’s Chairman’s Circle, comprised of individuals and organizations who have donated at least $10 million to the Museum. They joined the Museum’s Founder’s Society—Museum donors of at least $1 million—in 1998 with a gift to dedicate the Museum’s Ross Administrative Center in memory of Eric’s parents, Albert and Regina Rosenberg, who were murdered at Auschwitz-Birkenau.
Eric Ross was born in Dortmund, Germany. In 1938, he fled Nazi Germany and arrived in the U.S. on November 9, the day of Kristallnacht. Shortly after that, Lore Blumenthal, whom Eric had known in Germany, left for Paris. As a stateless person, she was sent to a camp at Gurs in southern France. She was able to escape and fled over the Pyrenees Mountains, ending up in Lisbon, and from there made it to America. Eric and Lore were reunited as young refugees in New York.
Eric returned to Europe in 1942 as a solider in the U.S. Army. He was one of the “Ritchie Boys,” a group of German-speaking soldiers who received special training at Camp Ritchie in Maryland, and was awarded a Bronze Star for his service. After the war, he founded Alpha Chemical & Plastics in Newark, and ten years later founded Mercer Plastics Company, based in Florida. He sold both companies in 1985. Since then, he and Lore have been generous supporters of the Museum and other philanthropic causes.
Also being honored at the dinner is French priest Father Patrick Desbois, adviser to the Vatican’s Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, and President of Yahad-In Unum: Catholics and Jews Together.
Since 2001, Father Desbois has scoured the Ukrainian countryside in an attempt to locate mass graves of Jews killed during the Holocaust. In countless anonymous sites throughout Eastern Europe, Holocaust victims were shot by the Nazis and their collaborators in a “Holocaust by bullets.” His work has identified 700 mass graves and execution sites, and he believes approximately 1,300 more exist.
Working closely with Museum scholars, Father Desbois is identifying the sites, collecting artifacts and most importantly, recording video testimony from people who witnessed the murders and, in some cases, were recruited to perform tasks at the killing sites. These interviews mark the first time these eyewitnesses are publicly sharing their experiences, and these historic testimonies will become part of the Museum’s collection.
The Museum’s 2008 National Tribute Dinner will be held on Wednesday, April 30 at 6:30 p.m. at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Washington, D.C. Media interested in covering the event should contact Andrew Hollinger at 202-488-6133 or email@example.com.
A living memorial to the Holocaust, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum strives to inspire leaders and citizens to confront hatred, prevent genocide, promote human dignity and strengthen democracy. Federal support guarantees the Museum’s permanence, and donors nationwide make possible its educational activities and global outreach. For more information, visit www.ushmm.org.