On International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the St. Louis Holocaust Museum & Learning Center announced its $18-million dollar expansion plan that will triple its current size.
"Seventy-five years ago, the Soviet army liberated Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest concentration camp and killing center," Rabbi Tracy Nathan told the crowd gathered in Creve Coeur.
"Obviously we chose this day because [remembrance] is the basis of this museum," said executive director Sandra Harris. "Our survivors are still coming to the museum talking with young people. Using the lessons of the Holocaust to address bias, bigotry and hate is important locally, nationally and around the world."
Six Holocaust survivors who live in the St. Louis area were on hand to light six candles in honor of the 6-million who were killed. Survivors included 90-year old Oskar Jakob, born in Romania, who was deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau, survived a death march and was finally liberated from Bergen-Belsen in 1945.
Carol Staenberg is the chair of the Empowering the Next Generation capital campaign. She says the museum is now 25 years old, but there is so much new technology that can expand the lessons of the Holocaust.
A number of those in attendance voiced the opinion that this education and lessons of the Holocaust are needed now more than ever, noting the rise in anti-semitism and hate groups.
The museum expansion will include a St. Louis Survivors gallery; numerous experiential learning opportunities; digital and traditional media; multi-purpose spaces for workshops, films and traveling exhibits; a Center for Positive Change; and a learning center for school groups.
The Holocaust Museum & Learning Center is free and open to the public, but it will close in June during the expansion. It is scheduled to reopen in late 2021.
It is one of just 22 Holocaust Museums in the United States.
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