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Americans and the Holocaust

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More than 250 applied, but only 50 libraries from across the country were chosen to host the Americans and the Holocaust exhibit created by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the American Library Association (ALA). The traveling exhibition examines the motives, pressures and fears that shaped Americans' responses to Nazism, war and genocide in Europe during the 1930s and 1940s and is based on the special exhibition of the same name at the Museum in Washington, D.C.. More information is available at the exhibit website: Americans and the Holocaust.
Amarillo Public Library is one of only two libraries—and the only public library—in the state chosen to host the exhibition. The other is the Texas A&M University Library at College Station. Winners were selected through a competitive, peer-reviewed application process that considered community demographics, library outreach plans, and the availability of other Holocaust-related educational opportunities in the library's region, among other factors.
APL Program Specialist Cynthia Hunt says community support for the project played a huge role in Amarillo's ability to secure the exhibit. “Amarillo Public Library collaborates with community partners on a regular basis, so we had a network of educational and cultural organizations to reach out to. WTAMU History Department, Panhandle PBS, High Plains Public Radio, Window on a Wider World, and the Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission are just some of the agencies we'll be working with as we plan programming around Americans and the Holocaust.”
The exhibit will be on display at the Downtown Amarillo Public Library from October 28 to December 9, 2020.
“Libraries are vital centers for lifelong learning, convening and conversation, and they are the perfect venues to host this important and powerful exhibition,” said ALA President Wanda Brown. “ALA is thankful to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum for their partnership in bringing Americans and the Holocaust to libraries and challenging people to not only ask themselves ‘what would I have done?' but also ‘what will I do?'”
Based on extensive new research, Americans and the Holocaust addresses important themes in American history, exploring the many factors — including the Great Depression, isolationism, xenophobia, racism and anti-Semitism — 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 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 Delano 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 a government priority.
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.
About the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
A living memorial to the Holocaust, the United States 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 (ALA) 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 http://ala.org.
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