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Museum Launches First Kickstarter Campaign to Expand Access to Holocaust Victims’ Diaries

Press Contacts

Andrew Hollinger
Director, Communications
202.488.6133
ahollinger@ushmm.org

Museum Press Kit

WASHINGTON,DC—The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is launching its first-ever Kickstarter campaign, “Save Their Stories: The Undiscovered Diaries of the Holocaust,” to give voice to some of the victims and survivors of Nazism. The campaign’s goal of $250,000 will enable the Museum to undertake the complex process of cataloging, digitizing, and making publicly available for the first time more than 200 diaries in its collection. The 31-day campaign is launching on the birthday of the most famous diarist of the Holocaust, Anne Frank. Anyone can follow the campaign and ongoing project on social media at #SaveTheirStories and learn more at ushmm.org/kickstarter.

Diaries reveal some of the most intimate, heart-wrenching accounts of the Holocaust. They record in real time the feelings of loss, fear, and, sometimes, hope of those facing extraordinary peril. These testimonies convey an urgency in a way that other archival documentation often lacks. Diaries are also important teaching and scholarly tools allowing historians, educators, and students to understand the human cost of genocide.

“Making the evidence of the Holocaust widely available is critical to promoting its understanding and countering those who would deny it,” says Dana Weinstein, the Museum’s director of membership and new audience engagement, who is leading the effort. “With the support of people from around the world united behind this project we will help make more voices of those persecuted by Nazism heard.”

The project will also allow the Museum to translate three of the more than 200 diaries into English written by Jewish refugees who fled their homes to escape the Holocaust:

  • The diary of Joseph Strip, a young boy who wrote about his family’s harrowing experience over the grid-lined pages of his math notebook. 
  • The papers of Lucien Dreyfus, a journalist and schoolteacher from Strasbourg, France, who was deported to Auschwitz in 1943. His collection includes letters to his daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter who escaped to the United States in 1942 that they received after his death.
  • The diary of Hans Vogel, who fled Paris with his family while his father was interned, which contains hand-drawn and colored maps of their flight.

The Museum’s full collection of diaries documents a range of experiences, from life in ghettos and concentration camps to the search for refuge in America.

“Kickstarter is proud to be working with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum to preserve and digitize these priceless records of a devastating time in human history,” says Margo Atwell, Kickstarter director of publishing. “It’s critical to preserve these works and make them available to the public and to future generations, so they can better understand the dangers of allowing hatred to spread unchecked.” 

Diaries also are powerful teaching tools. Lisa Bauman, an AP English teacher at Blue Valley West High School in Overland Park, Kansas, says her students gain understanding from reading first-hand accounts of the Holocaust.

“I use diaries to teach the Holocaust because they are treasure troves of primary source information that personalize the history and reach students in a way that a textbook cannot,” says Bauman. “By reading diaries, my students learn about individual experiences and develop feelings of empathy for the writers, who they can relate to in many ways because diaries are so deeply personal.”

Kickstarter has enabled the funding of more than 126,000 creative projects with the support of more than 13 million backers pledging over $3 billion since it began in 2009. It adheres to an all-or-nothing method: if the project succeeds in reaching its funding goal, all backers’ credit cards are charged. If the project falls short, no one is charged and no funds come to the Museum.

A living memorial to the Holocaust, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum inspires leaders and citizens worldwide to confront hate, prevent genocide, and promote human dignity. Its far-reaching educational programs and global impact are made possible by generous donors. For more information, visit ushmm.org

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