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Overview of Museum Collections

Scope and Nature of the Collections

The Museum’s collection is the basis for investigating aspects of the Holocaust and its lasting impact. In order to properly understand the events associated with the Third Reich and the Nazi occupation of Europe from 1933 to 1945 within their historical context, the temporal parameters of collecting activity extend from the end of World War I to the close of the Jewish displaced persons (DP) camps in the mid-1950s. 

Description of the Collection

The Museum’s collection is represented by a broad range of subject areas, including:

  • Prewar communal life of victim groups in affected areas of Europe and North Africa
  • Nazi rise to power
  • Nazi racial “science” and the propaganda campaign against Jews, Roma (Gypsies), and other targeted groups in Germany during the 1930s
  • Flight of victim groups from Nazi-occupied Europe and refugee communities in various countries
  • World response to the rise of Nazism and the persecution of Jews and other targeted groups
  • Nazi occupation policies and practices
  • Roundups, deportations, and murder of European Jewry
  • Mass shootings conducted by the Einsatzgruppen (mobile killing squads) as well as other German and indigenous police and auxiliary units
  • Ghettos, concentration camps, labor camps, and killing centers
  • Fate of Poles, Roma (Gypsies), homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, the mentally and physically handicapped, Soviet prisoners of war, and other targeted groups during the war
  • Persecution of and by indigenous populations
  • Nazi collaborators
  • Regimes of the Nazi satellite states and their treatment of the populations under their control
  • Resistance to Nazi policies and actions
  • Rescue efforts and Bricha
  • Life in hiding during the Holocaust
  • Discovery, disclosure, and liberation of the concentration and death camps
  • War crimes trials and the search for and apprehension of war criminals
  • Experiences and testimonies of victim groups following liberation
  • Jewish experiences in displaced persons (DP) camps and elsewhere
  • Legal and illegal immigration to Palestine, the United States, and other countries
  • Victim reparation and compensation
  • Holocaust memorialization and commemoration
  • Contemporary documentation regarding Holocaust deniers

Types of Media Collected

The various types of materials include but are not limited to:

  • Art: Drawings, paintings, prints, sculpture, artistic posters, and other creative works by Holocaust survivors or victims
  • Audio and video interviews
  • Books, pamphlets, manuscripts, and transcripts
  • Electronic copies, facsimiles, casts, microfilm, and photo reproductions
  • Film, video, and audio recordings
  • Musical recordings and scores
  • Photographs (original and copy prints), photo albums, transparencies, and negatives
  • Textiles: Uniforms, costumes, clothing, badges, armbands, flags, and banners
  • Textual records: Government documents, legal proceedings, institutional records, personal papers, diaries, memoirs, and correspondence
  • Three-dimensional objects: Personal effects, furnishings, architectural fragments, ritual objects, jewelry, numismatics, models, machinery, tools, and other implements
  • Works on paper: Broadsides, announcements, advertisements, posters, and maps

Donating to the Museum

The Museum actively seeks original documentation of the lives of victim groups before World War II and of Nazi persecution and genocide from 1933 to 1945. Learn more.

If you or members of your family have artifacts related to the Holocaust and would like to discuss donating them to the Museum, please complete our online donation form, e-mail curator@ushmm.org, or call 202.488.2649.