Holocaust education is a prime mission of the Miller Museum; thousands of students and educators tour the facility for this purpose during the school year. Support from the Tulsa Section of the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) an organization long concerned with both education and the preservation of local Jewish history, enables the Museum to provide this important resource.
The Holocaust Education Center at the Miller Museum was dedicated in April 1995, fifty years after the liberation of Dachau by members of the Oklahoma 45th Infantry Division. The dedication took place during the Tulsa Jewish community’s annual observance of Yom HaShoah, the event that commemorates the victims of the Nazi genocide. The photograph, donated by a local veteran, depicts Dachau after liberation.
The National Council of Jewish Women Holocaust Education Center features an introductory panel with this text:
The word Holocaust means “wide spread destruction.” By the end of World War II, six million European Jews had been destroyed. Many other people were also killed by these systematic atrocities, including Gypsies, political dissidents, homosexuals, Jehovah Witnesses, labor unionists and those with mental or physical disabilities.
European history is darkened by instances of anti-semitism, but the Holocaust was unique in scope, barbarity and the concentration on the murder of one people (genocide). Moreover, anti-semitism was given legal sanction by the German Government, which devised a program referred to by the code name of THE FINAL SOLUTION, whereby the entire Jewish people were to be wiped out by means of persecution, enslavement and extermination.
Throughout the war, Jews were forced to leave their homes for imprisonment and death in concentration camps established by the Germans. Originally the plan was to eliminate all Jewish men, women and children by mass shootings, two million perished in this way. Four million more were killed by poison gas, starvation, disease or by forced labor in the camps.
By the end of the war, one third of the Jewish population of Europe had been murdered. A thousand years of European Jewish culture had been obliterated.
The Miller Museum Collection contains hundreds of objects donated by Oklahoma veterans who took part in the liberation of German concentration camps. Other artifacts were brought to Oklahoma by Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany. Many are mementos of those who died in the Holocaust, others are dedicated in memory of them by their families. These Oklahomans have made their stories part of the Holocaust Education Center at the Miller Museum in order to bear witness to the terrors they encountered during the Hitler regime.
Pribram, Czech Republic
For over 45 years, The Sherwin Miller Museum of Jewish Art has preserved and exhibited a Torah rescued from Pribram, Czechoslovakia and provided to the museum by the Memorial Scrolls Trust.
In 1942, Jewish communities throughout Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia sent their religious objects to Prague to protect them from being lost, destroyed or stolen by the Nazis.
1,564 Torah Scrolls were saved. After the war, the Torahs were left in storage, mostly abandoned until British philanthropists purchased the collection from the Czech government in 1964 and created the Czech Memorial Scrolls Trust. From London, scrolls have been loaned to communities and museums around the world.
A Torah scroll is hand written on parchment in Hebrew, and contains the five books of Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, which are also the first five books of the Christian Bible. Judaism teaches that the Torah was delivered to Moses from God and is a guide for how to live their lives. A portion of the Torah is read every Sabbath in Jewish synagogues.
These scrolls, which already held religious significance, are the last remaining religious objects connected to Jews murdered in the Holocaust.
Scroll number MST#1414