Great News to Share!

Our Education Department offices have just relocated into the museum’s new North Wing! Students and teachers will soon be using the new Herbert H. Schiff Classroom space there as well.

Thanks to careful planning by the Museum Board, David Corban Architect, and PBS Contractors, the demolition and construction done on the adjoining suites never disrupted the activities or programs in the museum. This was made possible by the decision to delay breaking through the shared wall until later this month, after “season” and the school year end. Once the two wall openings are completed, Capitol Museum Services (CMS) will begin the installation of the North Wing’s new displays and exhibits, including the important Auschwitz Gallery and the Shelley and Stephen Einhorn Gallery for Other Genocides and Human Rights.

A few naming opportunities are still available – for details email or call 239-263-9200.

A Grand Opening ceremony will be held this Fall and we hope you will attend! More information on the ceremony will be available in the coming months.

Upcoming May Programs

Wednesday, May 3 – “Movies That Matter – Steve Brazina Memorial Film Series” Zoom Panel Discussion

We invite you to join us for the zoom panel discussion of the documentary, “APART,” on May 3 from 4-5 p.m. The documentary looks at the impact on women incarcerated on drug-related charges and their families. Zoom panelists will include Tammy Franklin, Associate Director, Academy Programs at Prison Fellowship, and a representative from Avow’s counseling program for children with incarcerated

parents. Visit to RSVP. One week prior to the Zoom discussion, a link to watch “APART” will be sent to all RSVPs, with a Zoom link sent 24 hours before the program.

Sunday, May 7 – Victory in Europe Day (VE-Day) complimentary museum admission with RSVP – since the museum is closed on Monday, May 8 for VE Day, we will offer complimentary admission on Sunday, May 7. Due to space limitations, RSVP is required. Visit our website to sign up:

Local Connections to One of Our Exhibits

Have you seen our informative exhibit on the post-war displaced persons camps in the Bobbi and Randy Heiligman Gallery? These DP camps were created by the Allies to help house millions of homeless refugees after World War II. In addition to civilians fleeing the battlefronts, the refugees included newly liberated Holocaust survivors and slave laborers. Refugees were originally housed according to their country of origin. Early into the displaced persons era, survivors had to live in very close quarters with virulently antisemitic neighbors. Aware of this, the Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees recommended to President Truman that special camps be created to shield Jewish displaced persons from further harm. He forwarded the report to Supreme Allied Commander General Dwight D. Eisenhower, who ordered it done.

As living conditions began to improve for them, survivors became more hopeful. It was possible to find out the whereabouts of family members who may have survived, as was the case with late local survivor Abe Price. He was able to find out where one of his brothers was. Once Abe immigrated to the United States, he petitioned his Congressional representatives to help bring his brother here to join him. You can see copies of Abe’s letter in our exhibit. Old friends were reunited, and new friends became family for those who had no one left. People met, fell in love and got married. There are stories of the same wedding dress being used by many refugee brides in a camp because of the scarcity of material.

Approximately 2,000 babies were born in these new DP Camps, including several of our museum volunteers such as Hadassah Schulman and Shirley Besikof. Hadassah Schulman, the museum’s Oral and Visual History Project Coordinator, was born in the Landesberg Displaced Persons Camp.

The small child’s coat in the exhibit belonged to Hadassah, and was created by her mother, Mania Licht Kohn, from a coat she wore during her imprisonment in Auschwitz and Bergen- Belsen. Her mother had been a seamstress before the war. The coat included a small fur collar – her father had been a furrier before the war began.

Shirley Besikof and parents at Bergen-Belson DP camp

Shirley Besikof, a guest relations and education volunteer, was born in the Bergen-Belsen Displaced Persons Camp. Her mother and father were students before the war and endured being in multiple concentration camps during the Holocaust. They met after the war in the Bergen-Belsen DP camp, where they lived from 1945–1949. Shirley said her father had a favorite story he told often about their immigration to the United States. When he asked one of the American soldiers in early 1949 if he had ever heard of their destination, St. Paul, Minnesota, the soldier laughed and said “you are going to Siberia!” Shirley is the child in the stroller in this photo, taken in front of one of the barracks at Bergen-Belsen.

Exciting Programs Coming in 2023-2024

In addition to opening the North Wing, we are completing program and exhibit planning for July 2023 – June 2024. We will be hosting several field trips from local summer camps, offering a new “Movies That Matter” series in the Fall, hosting the Grand Opening of the North Wing, and exciting new special exhibits in the expanded Estelle and Stuart Price Gallery – “Forgeries of the Holocaust,” “Stitching History” and “Lawyers Without Rights. What does a newly identified mosquito mean for

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