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Americans and the Holocaust Initiative

The Museum’s Americans and the Holocaust initiative focuses on Americans’ responses to the rise of Nazi Germany and the Holocaust. The initiative is anchored in an exhibition of the same name currently on display in the Museum. In partnership with the American Library Association, a traveling version is touring public and university libraries nationwide.

Educational resources include lessons, books, and a crowdsourcing newspaper project. Related archival materials can be found in the Museum’s collections. 

The new documentary by Ken Burns, Lynn Novick and Sarah Botstein, The U.S. and the Holocaust, was partly inspired by the Museum's initiative and can be viewed on PBS.

  • Explore the online counterpart to the Americans and the Holocaust exhibition which includes personal stories, artifacts, and film.

  • Find lesson plans and other teaching materials examining Americans’ responses to the Holocaust.

  • The Americans and the Holocaust traveling exhibition is touring 50 public and university libraries through November 2023.

Anne Frank and her family walking down the street
Anne Frank and her family walking down a street

Stories Featured in the Documentary

The Museum was pleased to cooperate with the filmmakers of The U.S. and the Holocaust by providing archival and historical sources. Explore stories featured in the film.

Susan Warsinger (née Hilsenrath)

Susan Warsinger's parents hoped they were sending 10-year old Susi away from danger when they paid to have her and her brother, Joseph, smuggled into France. It was only the beginning of their journey from terror to freedom.

Guy Stern

Guy Stern’s family sent him to the United States as a teen to escape Nazi Germany, and as a German Jewish refugee, he was recruited to be a US Army Intelligence Operative. 

Ben Ferencz

After witnessing Nazi concentration camps shortly after liberation, Ben Ferencz became the lead prosecutor at Nuremberg. His fight for justice for victims of atrocity crimes continues today.

Otto Frank

Otto Frank, father of Anne Frank, fled Nazi Germany to Amsterdam with his family soon after Hitler came to power. Determined to leave Europe, he contacted an old college friend in the United States for help—but ultimately to no avail.

Anne Frank and her family walking down a street
  • Using first hand accounts from the Museum’s collection, the Behind Every Name animated video series features personal stories, including those of Jews escaping Nazi persecution and the individual Americans who tried to help.

  • Museum Exhibitions with a sign displaying Desperate Times, Limited Measures

    In this 39-minute tour, Dr. Daniel Greene, historian and exhibition curator, walks through Americans and the Holocaust and provides an overview of the history, themes, and artifacts presented throughout.

  • This project invites students, teachers, and lifelong learners to contribute to ongoing research on how pivotal events from the Holocaust period were reported in US newspapers in the 1930s and '40s.

Older black and white photo of young children seeing the Statue of Liberty

Related Publications

Americans and the Holocaust Reader

This collection of more than 100 primary sources draws on groundbreaking research conducted for the Americans and the Holocaust exhibition. Learn More

The Unwanted 

This book is an intimate account of a small village in Germany whose Jewish families desperately pursued American visas to flee the Nazis. Learn More

Older black and white photo of young children seeing the Statue of Liberty


The Museum is deeply grateful to the following donors for their generous support of our Americans and the Holocaust initiative.