ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — We're getting the first look inside the new St. Louis Kaplan Feldman Holocaust Museum, which opens to the public in November.
"The core tenet of this museum is that we are about St. Louis survivors and in the first gallery is where you will be introduced to those voices and those stories," explained Helen Turner, the Director of Education.
When it opens, the expanded 36,000-square-foot facility in Creve Coeur, will be four times the size of the previous museum, which served the community for over 25 years.
"So instead of a museum of numbers, facts and dates, we will also be about choices and human beings," added Turner.
And in many ways, the Holocaust is a deeply personal story.
"So this is Evelina," said archivist Diane Everman as she showed us a doll.
As people cleaned out their closets and attics during the pandemic, Everman received dozens of new artifacts from the families of survivors like “Evelina”.
"The doll was given to one of our local survivors in Berlin," explained Everman. "It was before Evelina, the little girl who lived down the street, was deported to Auschwitz and murdered there."
There was also a letter sent by the Daniels family to relatives in Vienna.
"And then it was sent back to them and they immediately thought the worst," said Everman. "Which was confirmed later on. Her entire family had been murdered."
After the Holocaust people said, "never forget". But it seems people are forgetting.
"The Holocaust keeps coming up in pop culture. It's being misused and misrepresented and Holocaust denial and distortion is being used in a very real way," said Turner.
Learning the truth serves as an important warning about injustice and bigotry and what happens when people stay silent. The goal of this museum is to empower its visitors.
"Young, old, everybody has a role to play sharing this story and making active change in our communities and the world today," said Turner.
Bringing to mind, that the only cures for hatred and intolerance are education and remembrance.
The new St. Louis Holocaust Museum opens in November. It will be a place of both heartbreak and hope and serve as a reminder that we can and must do better.
"It is not enough to simply say never again," said Turner. "You have to live it. You have to be it."
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