Olson Library hosts ‘Americans and the Holocaust’ exhibit

The Lydia M. Olson Library at Northern Michigan University is hosting the “Americans and the Holocaust” traveling exhibit through Oct. 23. The exhibit focuses on issues that shaped Americans’ responses to Nazism, war and genocide in Europe during the 1930s and 1940s. (Photo courtesy of NMU)

MARQUETTE — Northern Michigan University’s Lydia M. Olson Library is one of 50 U.S. libraries selected from more than 250 applicants to host the “Americans and the Holocaust” traveling exhibit from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

The exhibit examines the motives, pressures and fears that shaped Americans’ responses to Nazism, war and genocide in Europe during the 1930s and 1940s, according to an NMU news release.

“It’s an honor to be chosen to host this exhibit, which supplements our programs in connecting the history of the American response to Nazism with contemporary issues,” said Leslie Warren, interim associate provost and dean of Library and Instructional Support. “This exhibit and its related events highlight the continuing relevance of Olson Library’s Holocaust Collection, which has more than 8,000 print and media items supporting an understanding of the Holocaust and its significance now and in the future.”

The touring exhibition is based on the special exhibition of the same name that opened in 2018 in Washington, D.C., to mark the national museum’s 25th anniversary. Offered in partnership with Peter White Public Library, Olson Library’s display and related events will continue through Oct. 23. Admission is free.

Based on extensive new research of that period, Americans and the Holocaust explores the many factors — 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, NMU said. 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. 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: A Traveling Exhibition for Libraries” is made possible by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and the American Library Association.

For more information about Americans and the Holocaust and a calendar of related public programs at the Olson Library, visit https://lib.nmu.edu/exhibit/americans-and-the-holocaust-exhibit.

To learn more about the exhibition, visit ushmm.org/americans-ala.


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