- S. Mark Taper Foundation Atrium
- The World That Was
- Rise of Nazism
- Onset of War / Ghettoization / Extermination
- Deportation & Extermination
- Labor / Concentration / Death Camps
- World Response, Resistance, Rescue
- Life After Liberation
- Survivor Presentation/Temporary Exhibit Room
- Tree of Testimony
- Holocaust Monument / Martyrs Memorial
- Goldrich Family Foundation Children's Memorial
S. Mark Taper Foundation Atrium
This room welcomes you to the Museum. After passing through security, you will be able to check out your personal audio guide and obtain information to enhance your experience. The Museum exhibits begin with a video featuring Los Angeles native Jack Taylor, who as a U.S. soldier participated in the liberation of a concentration camp.
The World That Was
Jews could not have been a target for persecution had they not been part of thriving communities before the war. In this room you will learn about those communities, as well as the significant contributions Jews made to virtually every discipline of human endeavor. Stimulating displays and an innovative interactive touch table characterize the wealth of pre-war life.
Rise of Nazism
This room depicts the rise of Nazism and the discriminatory racial policies Hitler’s government imposed. Although Jews were the Nazis’ primary example of non-Aryan groups, the Nazis also targeted for persecution Catholics, Roma, Jehovah’s Witnesses, homosexuals, political dissenters and others. The display of the slow, step-by-step de-humanization of Jews established the background for Kristallnacht, a main feature of this room.
Onset of War / Ghettoization / Extermination
The outbreak of war lead to a dramatic expansion of German-controlled territory. The Nazis then pursued their parallel war against the Jews by breaking apart Jewish communities and killing the inhabitants outright or deporting them to ghettos. Ghettos were then liquidated by transporting victims to death or labor camps. This room culminates in a re-creation of a cattle car modeled after those which transported victims in the most inhumane conditions.
Deportation & Extermination
When victims disembarked from the trains carrying them from ghettos or forced collection points across Europe, they entered an upside down world. The innocent people found themselves at the mercy of the true criminals. The universe created by those criminals focused not on sustaining life, but on committing murder as efficiently as possible. The Nazis created six camps specifically for this purpose: Auschwitz, Belzetz, Chelmno, Majdanek, Sobibor, and Treblinka.
Victims were processed in varying ways. People were first separated by gender, thus breaking apart families. The Nazis then divided each group, sending some people to the left and others to the right; one direction meant death within hours. Without their knowing it, children, the sick or injured and older people were almost always sent this way. They would be separated from their belongings, forced to remove their clothes, and told they had to shower before being sent to barracks. The showers were in fact gas chambers in disguise.
In this room, which connects directly to the next one, Labor/Concentration/Death Camps, visitors see displays highlighting many of the countries from which the Nazis deported their victims. 18 interactive monitors provide multi-media information on individual camps. These camps were chosen as examples of the literally hundreds of camps the Nazis created.
Labor / Concentration / Death Camps
The relatively few people not selected for death experienced their own processing. They too were separated from their possessions and stripped naked. The Nazis herded them into real showers, then handed them striped uniforms and wooden shoes. They ultimately found themselves living in labor camps.
These work camps varied in size and purpose. Many of them contained their own killing facilities. Depending on the size and needs of the camp, these camps either fed the killing camps, or received prisoners from other camps nearby. Living conditions were subhuman.
During their imprisonment, workers were sent to factories, quarries, roads, farms, or any other enterprise that needed workers. Guards supervised every minute of the prisoners’ lives and routinely brutalized or killed the workers for the slightest reason, or none at all. Work proceeded from sun up to sun down and in every season. In addition, regardless of the weather, prisoners regularly reported for roll calls and head counts conducted whenever and in whatever manner the guards’ wished.
To the left of the 18 camp interactive monitors sits the model of the Sobibor Death Camp, designed and built by Holocaust Survivor Thomas Toivi Blatt. Mr. Blatt escaped from Sobibor during a prisoner-led revolt in 1943. This revolt is described in his book "From the Ashes of Sobibor: A Story of Survival". Donated to the Museum in 1978, the detailed model depicts the Sobibor Camp as it looked prior to the 1943 revolt. Above the model are two screens which play a video of Mr. Blatt explaining the model and recalling his experiences at Sobibor. Thomas Blatt is one of only fifty survivors who escaped Sobibor and survived to the end of the war.
World Response, Resistance, Rescue
The Museum’s main passageways display images of front pages of Los Angeles newspapers from the Holocaust era. The headlines indicate significant information was available to people about the events of the Holocaust as it was happening.
For the most part, however, the world chose not to respond to the information available. In the period before Hitler’s invasion of Poland the European and U.S. governments sought to appease, rather than confront, the Nazi dictator. Countries refused to increase the number of refugees they would admit. Hitler gained credence for his view that no one wanted Jews when he allowed the U.S.S. St. Louis to leave, full of people trying to escape. In spite of its efforts to land in many ports in the U.S. and South America, no country allowed it to. The Pope also failed to speak out against the inhumanity, persecution and slaughter.
Efforts to oppose the Nazis’ policies were sporadic and isolated. Few countries acted as did Denmark organizing national efforts to save Jews. Few individuals spoke out. One small group of students, known as the White Rose, lost their lives for doing so. Only a handful of diplomats with the power to help did so; several Museum exhibits retell their stories. And while the Garden of the Righteous outside the Museum celebrates the citizens of European countries who acted to save Jewish lives, the numbers of such people are incredibly small in comparison with the millions who did nothing.
Some Jews found ways to avoid deportation and formed partisan or resistance groups. Museum exhibits discuss their efforts. The Warsaw ghetto uprising, the only successful citizen revolt against the Nazis, may be the best known.
Life After Liberation
This room explores life after January 27, 1945, when Russian forces made Auschwitz the first liberated camp.
The Allies completed their rout of German troops on May 8, 1945, V-E (Victory Europe) Day. Soldiers with little understanding of what they were seeing found thousands of emaciated people, most either near-starvation or suffering from typhus and other diseases. As Survivors returned to health they began to seek any family members who may have survived. In spite of a ruined train system and limited food, many Survivors struggled to return to their home towns. Some found former neighbors living in their homes and their possessions stolen. In some cases they became victims of pogroms or anti-Jewish riots conducted by people who blamed them for World War II.
The Allies established displaced persons camps to accommodate the hundreds of thousands who found themselves homeless and penniless. These camps became the foundation on which many Survivors began to build new lives. Lists of Survivors were regularly posted in central locations, allowing some people to find a relative or friend. But in most cases those who survived were the only one from entire families or communities. Young Survivors found mates and married.
Virtually all Survivors struggled to obtain visas to countries outside of Europe where they could begin new lives. Palestine, South Africa, Australia, South America, Mexico, Canada and the United States were some of the most popular destinations. In 1948 the founding of the State of Israel gave many Survivors new hope.
Featured in Room 7 is the Bluethner piano, produced by the Bluethner family from Leipzig, Germany. This particular instrument belonged to composer Alfred Sendry, born in Budapest, Hungary. Sendry rose to prominence in early 1930's Germany, but due to rising levels of anti-semitism decided to leave Germany in 1933. Sendry, like many other Jewish musicians fleeing Nazi Germany, had to sell or leave their prize instruments behind. However, due the dedication of the Bluethner family, surviving musicians were able to reunite with their instruments after the war. The Bluethner piano shown in Room 7 was shipped by the Bluethner family to Sendry at his new home--Los Angeles.
Survivor Presentation/Temporary Exhibit Room
In this room groups can meet with a survivor, listen to his or her life story, and learn about the events of this terrible period first hand. Movies or videos can also be viewed here, and the Museum regularly conducts cultural events in this room. Please see our “Events” schedule for more information.
Currently Room 8 houses The Erich Lichtblau-Leskly Theresienstadt Collection of original paintings or ghetto-picture diaries is the largest collection of this artist’s work. Through their technical excellence, the works reveal defiance, humor, satire, and indifference to the madness of the world run by the Nazi regime. Theresienstadt (Terezin), besides being a main incarceration center for the Central European Jews, also served as a place used to deceive the world that the Jews of Europe were alive and being treated well. The Nazi regime used it as a stage for filming propaganda and a tourist stop for international commissions. The Lichtblau-Leskly works capture the complications and ironies of Theresienstadt. They universally depict the fundamental desperation lurking in every moment of life in the show ghetto.
Tree of Testimony
The Museum is proud to introduce the Tree of Testimony, a 70 screen video sculpture wall that will continually play interviews with survivors from the extensive USC Shoah Foundation library. The exhibit will cycle through all 52,000 testimonies in the Shoah Foundation catalogue at least once each year. The monitors allow visitors to choose to listen to individual survivor stories from amongst many presented.
The Tree of Testimony focuses on the importance of each individual survivor experience. In the words of Holocaust expert Professor Yehuda Bauer, survivor stories “are all the same, and they are all totally different one from another...they are a story of a people, and they are the story of our people”. This collection is impressively comprehensive, without sacrificing the voices of survivors. Testimonies are provided in an array of languages, and touch on myriad aspects of life during the Holocaust. Visit the Tree of Testimony and become immersed in a space where history is kept alive through thousands of surviving voices.
Holocaust Monument / Martyrs Memorial
You are viewing the culmination of some 25 years of planning and preparation, leading to the dedication of this monument on April 26, 1992. It was erected here to honor the memory of the six million who were murdered in the Nazi barbarism between 1933 and 1945.
Construction in the public park, at a cost of some $3 million was made possible by donations of generous, concerned individuals, organizations, foundations and corporations. Its location, on Los Angeles County Park land, allows everyone to view it without cost.
Although it can be seen from many areas of the beautiful Pan Pacific Park, the site is at the North end, apart from much of the ongoing park activities. This affords those visiting the monument a quiet place for contemplation, meditation or to be alone with their thoughts.
Created by renowned Los Angeles artist Dr. Joseph L Young, it contains a great deal of Holocaust symbolism.
The dominant features of the site are the six 18-foot high, black, triangular granite columns reaching skyward, honoring the six million The columns also symbolize the crematoria smoke stacks. In the center of the columns is an "invisible" seventh column, representing us, the living, who must carry on the memory of those who were martyred, urging us to create a better world, devoid of hatred and violence, as we learn to live together.
On the platform of the monument are names in three concentric hexagons. The outer hexagon lists the countries conquered by the Germans and the numbers of Jews annihilated in each. Moving to the left the countries are listed in the order each fell before the German onslaught.
Along the center hexagon are the names of the concentration camps and the year each opened.
The inner hexagon contains the names of the death camps.
Behind the Monument, on the walls of the Museum, are where the names of family members lost in the Holocaust can be memorialized. On another section of this wall are the names of those whose contributions made the creation of this monument possible.
The Monument is a place to mourn loved ones who perished in the Holocaust and have no known graves. Some place pebbles, a tradition that some observe when leaving a cemetery.
Creation of the Los Angeles Holocaust Monument in Pan Pacific Park was made possible through the efforts of the American Congress of Jews from Poland and Survivors of Concentration Camps. This group appointed the Los Angeles Holocaust Monument Committee, composed of civic leaders of all faiths and backgrounds, all committed to making the truth about the Holocaust an imperishable part of humanity’s consciousness.
Goldrich Family Foundation Children's Memorial
Welcome to the Goldrich Family Foundation Children’s Memorial. There are 1.2 million holes of varying sizes that are drilled into stones affixed to the walls to memorialize the children killed during the Holocaust. They are of varying sizes to suggest the different ages of the victims.
The idea for the holes was inspired in part by the Western Wall in Jerusalem. Jews consider the Western Wall the holiest place on earth because it is the only wall remaining from the Temple that thousands of years ago was the centerpiece of the Jews' relationship with God. Even today people can visit the Wall, and when they do, they usually place a small note in a crack in the Wall.
Feel free to insert your own special note into one of the 1.2 million holes around you when you visit. The notes can be about anything. For example, they can be a letter to G-d, a reflection of your Museum experience, or even a letter to one of these victims.
Thank you for visiting and taking time to remember the millions of victims.