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Americans and the Holocaust traveling exhibition at Foley Library

Posted on March 12, 2020 at 6:00 am

By Brad Matthies

UPDATE: March 13, 2020

The Americans and the Holocaust exhibit opening is delayed until April 1, and all March exhibit events are cancelled.  Please see this webpage for a detailed list of canceled events.

This decision was made with an abundance of caution for the health and wellbeing of our supporters and the community.  We are grateful to all of you who supported this exhibit and its related events. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you and we will be in touch once we know the April exhibit schedule.

Gonzaga University’s Foley Library is one of 50 U.S. libraries selected to host Americans and the Holocaust, a traveling exhibition from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, that examines the motives, pressures, and fears that shaped Americans’ responses to Nazism, war, and genocide in Europe during the 1930s and 1940s.

We are so proud to be selected from a pool of more than 250 applicants to host this important and powerful exhibition. We encourage community members to come explore the exhibition at Foley Library and the special community events we have planned. This exhibition will challenge you to not only ask, “What would I have done?” but also, “What will I do?”

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 challenges 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 challenges 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 will be on display in the Rare Reading Room on the 3rd floor of Foley Library from March 19April 1–April 27, 2020, along with a series of related special events presented by the Gonzaga Institute for Hate Studies and supported by the Spokane County Human Rights Task Force.

Several Spokane County Library District locations are livestreaming two exhibit events. This provides us with the opportunity to share these discussions with people in our surrounding communities throughout Spokane County who may not be able to travel to Gonzaga to attend.

Inspiration for today from Holocaust survivors Carla Peperzak and Cora Der Koorkanian (livestream) EVENT CANCELLED

Tuesday, March 31, 6:30–8:30pm

For more information, visit the event webpage.

Hate: Documenting it, understanding it, and countering it with panelists Ken Stern, Barbara Perry, Brian Levin, and Kristine Hoover (livestream)

Wednesday, April 22, 7–8:30pm

For more information, visit the event webpage.

For more information about Americans and the Holocaust and related programming at Foley Library, visit the traveling exhibit’s webpage

For anyone who would like to learn more and read further on this topic, librarians from the Library District have curated booklists from their collection that include titles for adults, teens, and children (titles pictured below) and from their digital collection on OverDrive, also for adults, teens, and kids.

Americans and the Holocaust: A Traveling Exhibition for Libraries is made possible by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and American Library Association.

Brad Matthies

Brad Matthies is the Associate Dean of Library Services at Gonzaga’s Foley Library. 

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