Wisconsin Historical Society

Historical Essay

Images of Wisconsin's Holocaust Survivors - Image Gallery Essay

Wisconsin's Holocaust Survivors | Wisconsin Historical Society
A family at the beach in Holland.Two are sitting in beach chairs. There is a child wearing glasses sitting in the sand next to a beachball.

Melkman Family at the Seashore in Holland, 1934

Holland. Left to right: Flora van Brink Hony Bader (nee Melkman), mother Duifje Melkman, brother Harry Melkman, aunt Rebecca Veerman and sister Annie Melkman at the seashore in Holland. View the original source document: WHI 56428

EnlargeMagda Herzberger stands in front of a map of the United States holding a wooden plaque carved with a Star of David and the inscription, "In Gratitude to Magda Herzberger."

Magda Herzberger with Plaque, 1980

Magda Herzberger stands in front of a map of the United States holding a wooden plaque carved with a Star of David and the inscription, "In Gratitude to Magda Herzberger." View the original source document: WHI 62054

The images in this collection document the lives of 18 Wisconsin Holocaust survivors. They chronicle the survivors from childhood to adulthood, wartime to peacetime, and parenthood to old age. The photographs, dating from 1911 to 1980, are snapshots of family and friends, Jewish celebrations, significant events, and everyday life. Most date from after the war. Only a small percentage of the photographs depict life in Europe and very few show wartime conditions. These photographs ensure that the Holocaust and the role the survivors played are not forgotten. Browse nearly 200 images online, selected from more than 1,600 images in the collection.

In addition, 16 survivors interviewed for the Oral Histories: Wisconsin Survivors of the Holocaust collection had portraits taken by project photographer David Mandel in 1980. Many of these images feature the Wisconsin survivors in their homes and/or workplaces.

About the Oral Histories: Wisconsin Survivors of the Holocaust Collection

Between 1933 and 1945 more than 17 million people were imprisoned, deported, killed, sent to forced labor or left homeless during the Holocaust. After World War II about 140,000 survivors came to the U.S. More than 1,000 eventually settled in Wisconsin cities, including Madison, Milwaukee, Green Bay, Kenosha, Sheboygan, Manitowoc, Wausau, Merrill, Oshkosh and Monroe.

Wisconsin Historical Society archivists interviewed 22 Holocaust survivors and two American witnesses between 1974 and 1981. These oral histories generated more than 160 hours of tape and a collection of more than 1,600 images.

EnlargeRefugee children learning Hebrew at a displaced persons camp school; Germany.

Refugees Learning Hebrew at a Displaced Persons Camp, 1946

Refugee children learning Hebrew at a displaced persons camp school; Germany. Photo by Saul Sorrin. View the original source document: WHI 57499

In their testimonies, the survivors recall Berlin during the rise of the Third Reich, Kristallnacht and other anti-Semitic violence, the Warsaw and Lodz ghettos, and conditions at Auschwitz, Dachau, Bergen-Belsen and other less-infamous concentration camps. They describe the fates of their families, starting life over again in postwar Europe, and emigrating to the U.S. and Israel. They also discuss being new American immigrants and life in Wisconsin's Jewish communities between 1945 and 1980.

Note: Explore the complete digital collection of interviews online at Oral Histories: Wisconsin Survivors of the Holocaust Collection. Research the Wisconsin Survivors of the Holocaust Interviews and Photographs in person during regular Archives hours. The audio recordings may require advanced notice. See information on Visiting the Library and Archives.

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