Gonzaga to Host ‘Americans and the Holocaust’ Traveling Exhibition

Children aboard the President Harding look at the Statue of Liberty as they pull into New York Harbor.
Children aboard the President Harding look at the Statue of Liberty as they pull into New York Harbor.

August 08, 2022
Gonzaga News Service

Gonzaga University’s Foley Center Library has been selected to host “Americans and the Holocaust” from Aug. 23-Oct. 7.

This traveling exhibit from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum examines the motives, pressures and fears that shaped Americans’ responses to Nazism, war and genocide in Europe during the 1930s and ’40s.

Based on the special exhibition of the same name at the museum in Washington, D.C., it will be on display in the Cowles Rare Books Room on the third floor of Foley Library.

Exhibition hours:

  • Aug. 23-28: Monday-Friday, 3 p.m.-8 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 1 p.m.-5 p.m.; and by appointment for group tours.
  • Aug. 29-Sept. 30: Wednesday, 3 p.m.-8 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 1 p.m.-5 p.m.; by appointment for group tours.
  • Oct. 1-7: Saturday and Sunday, 1 p.m.-5 p.m.; Monday-Friday, 3 p.m.-8 p.m.; by appointment for group tours.

Exhibition website: Americans and the Holocaust. View the full tour itinerary.

The exhibition, which will travel to 50 U.S. libraries through November 2023, is made possible by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and the American Library Association.

Paul Bracke, dean of the Foley Library, said Gonzaga is proud to be selected from a pool of more than 250 applicants to host the powerful exhibition.

“We encourage community members to come explore it,” Bracke said. “We are excited about the special community events we have planned. The exhibition will challenge people to not only ask ‘What would I have done?’ but also ‘What will I do?’”

Special public event on campus: “Americans and the Holocaust: Remembering Our Past to Inform Our Future.”

Sept. 8, 7 p.m.-8:30 p.m.; doors open at 6:30 p.m., Hemmingson Center Ballroom

Opening reflections by Rabbi Elizabeth Goldstein; remarks by Bracke, associate provost and dean of libraries; speakers: Kevin O’Connor, Gonzaga’s history department; Paul Regelbrugge, Holocaust Center for Humanity, Seattle; Kristine Hoover, Gonzaga’s Center for the Study of Hate; and an interview with Holocaust survivor Carla Peperzak by Julia Thompson.

Based on extensive new research of that period, “Americans and the Holocaust” addresses important themes in U.S. history — including the Great Depression, isolationism, xenophobia, racism and antisemitism — that influenced decisions made by the U.S. government, the news media, organizations and individuals as they responded to Nazism.

The exhibition challenges commonly held assumptions that Americans knew little and did nothing about the Nazi persecution and murder of Jews as the Holocaust unfolded.

Drawing on a remarkable collection of primary sources from the 1930s and ’40s, the exhibition focuses on the stories of individuals and groups of Americans who took action in response to Nazism. It will challenge visitors to consider the responsibilities and obstacles faced by individuals — from President Franklin D. Roosevelt to ordinary Americans — who made difficult choices, sought to effect change and, in a few cases, took significant risks to help victims of Nazism even as rescue never became an official government priority.

For more information about the exhibition and related programming at the Foley Library, visit foley-library.

“Americans and the Holocaust” was made possible by lead sponsor Jeannie & Jonathan Lavine. Additional major funding was provided by the Bildners — Joan & Allen z”l, Elisa Spungen and Rob, Nancy and Jim; and Jane and Daniel Och.

The museum’s exhibitions also are supported by the Lester Robbins and Sheila Johnson Robbins Traveling and Special Exhibitions Fund, established in 1990.

MEDIA: Please contact Paul Bracke, dean of the Foley Library, at (509) 313-6535 or bracke@gonzaga.edu.

About the Foley Center Library

The Foley Center Library at Gonzaga opened in 1992 and was named for Gonzaga undergraduate and law alumnus Ralph E. Foley, a Superior Court judge for 34 years, and his wife, Helen Higgins Foley. The main library on campus, the Foley Library is an integral partner in the transformative educational experiences emerging from Gonzaga’s Catholic, Jesuit and humanistic heritage and mission. The library offers an outstanding array of information resources, technologies, services and people to support the academic and creative achievements of students, faculty, staff and the community. For more information, visit foley-library.

About the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

A living memorial to the Holocaust, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum inspires leaders and citizens worldwide to confront hatred, prevent genocide and promote human dignity. The museum’s far-reaching educational programs and global impact are made possible by generous donors. For more information, visit http://ushmm.org/.

About the American Library Association

The American Library Association is the foremost national organization providing resources to inspire library and information professionals to transform their communities through essential programs and services. For more than 140 years, the ALA has been the trusted voice for academic, public, school, government and special libraries, advocating for the profession and the library’s role in enhancing learning and ensuring access to information for all. For more information, visit ala.org. To learn more about the exhibition, visit ushmm.org/americans-ala.

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