Nebraska Wesleyan University is one of 50 U.S. libraries to host Americans and the Holocaust, a traveling exhibition from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. This exhibit will showcase the motives, pressures and fears that shaped Americans’ responses to Nazism, war and genocide in Europe during the 1930s and 1940s.
The touring library exhibition — based on the special exhibition of the same name at the Museum in Washington, D.C. — will travel to U.S. libraries from 2020 to 2022.
“Nebraska Wesleyan is so proud to be selected to host such an impactful exhibit,” said Julie Pinnell, NWU University Librarian. “This is a great opportunity for the community to experience a piece of history from a standpoint many have not explored. We look forward to hosting several local schools and seeing many of our fellow Lincolnites at this thought-provoking exhibit.”
Americans and the Holocaust will be on display at Nebraska Wesleyan’s Cochrane-Woods Library, along with a series of related special events, from October 6 to November 17.
Additional programming also includes:
- “How Did Young Americans Respond to the Holocaust?” presented by Rebecca Erbelding, historian and archivist at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. The event will take place Wednesday, October 6 at 2 p.m. in Callen Conference Center, located on the lower-level of Smith-Curtis.
- “Looking at Nebraska Holocaust Survivors‘ & WWII Liberators’ Stories Through the Lens of the Digital Humanities”, presented by Beth S. Dotan, PhD candidate at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and former Director of the Institute for Holocaust Education in Omaha. The event will take place Friday, October 8 at 2 p.m. in Callen Conference Center, located on the lower-level of Smith-Curtis.
- Showing of the documentary “Olympic Pride, American Prejudice." There will be a Q&A with Deborah Riley Draper, an award winning director and writer. The event will take place Thursday, October 28 at 6 p.m. in Callen Conference Center, located on the lower-level of Smith-Curtis.
- “Forgotten Victims of Nazism: Eugenics and the Dehumanization of People with Disabilities”, presented by Lu Auz, professor of art history at the University of Memphis. The event will take place Friday, October 29 at 2 p.m. in Callen Conference Center, located on the lower-level of Smith-Curtis.
- “Saving a Legacy: Japanese and Japanese Americans in Nebraska", presented by Vickie Schaepler, coordinator of the Japanese Hall and History Project at the Legacy of the Plains Museum. The event will take place Wednesday, November 3 at 2 p.m. in Callen Conference Center, located on the lower-level of Smith-Curtis.
- The University theatre department will also perform “A Shayna Maidel” in conjunction with the exhibit. Those interested in seeing the theatre performance should visit NWU’s theatre web page for more information and tickets.
NWU is also offering a course for first-year students entitled “Americans in the Holocaust” which aims to bring students even closer to the exhibition’s subject matter.
Challenging common assumptions
Based on extensive new research of that period, Americans and the Holocaust addresses important themes in American history, exploring the many factors — 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. This exhibition will challenge the 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 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.
In addition to the traveling exhibition on loan, Nebraska Wesleyan received a cash grant to support public programs. The grant also covered one library staff member’s attendance at an orientation workshop at the Museum.
This is a great opportunity for the community to experience a piece of history from a standpoint many have not explored.
Americans and the Holocaust was made possible by the generous support of lead sponsor Jeannie & Jonathan Lavine. Additional major funding was provided by the Bildners — Joan & Allen z”l, Elisa Spungen & Rob, Nancy & Jim; and Jane and Daniel Och. The Museum's exhibitions are also supported by the Lester Robbins and Sheila Johnson Robbins Traveling and Special Exhibitions Fund, established in 1990.
Americans and the Holocaust: A Traveling Exhibition for Libraries is an educational initiative of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the American Library Association. Additional programming support was made possible, in part, by Humanities Nebraska and Nebraska Cultural Endowment. To learn more about the exhibition, visit ushmm.org/americans-ala. The exhibit and most programming is free for attendees.