“The Americans and the Holocaust” traveling exhibition opens on Missouri S&T campus


Jordan Palmer, Chief Digital Content Officer

On the heels of the national release of Ken Burns’ documentary series “The U.S. and the Holocaust,” on PBS, a new traveling exhibit is opening near St. Louis that examines the same important questions about what the international community, including the United States, could have done to stop the rise of Nazism in Germany and its assault on Europe’s Jews.

The Americans and the Holocaust” traveling exhibition opened on display at the Curtis Laws Wilson Library on the Missouri S&T campus in Rolla, Missouri this past weekend. The exhibition runs through October 22, 2022.

Inside the exhibit

This 1,100-square-foot traveling exhibition is based on the exhibition that opened in April 2018 at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC. The Americans and the Holocaust traveling exhibition addresses important themes in American history, including Americans’ responses to refugees, war and genocide in the 1930s and ‘40s. This exhibition will challenge the commonly held assumptions that Americans knew little and did nothing about the Nazi persecution and murder of Jews as the Holocaust unfolded.

Drawing on a remarkable collection of primary sources from the 1930s and ‘40s, the exhibition focuses on the stories of individuals and groups of Americans who took action in response to Nazism. It will challenge visitors to consider the responsibilities and obstacles faced by individuals—from President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to ordinary Americans—who made difficult choices, sought to effect change, and, in a few cases, took significant risks to help victims of Nazism even as rescue never became a government priority. The exhibit hopes to challenge people to not only ask “what would I have done?” but also, “what will I do?”

The exhibition addresses four questions:

  • What did Americans know?
  • Did Americans help Jewish refugees?
  • Why did Americans go to war?
  • How did Americans respond to the Holocaust?

By the time Nazi Germany forced the world into war, democratic civilization itself was at stake. The US military fought for almost four years to defend democracy, and more than 400,000 Americans died. American soldiers and civilians alike made enormous sacrifices to free Europe from Nazi oppression. Yet saving Jews and others targeted for murder by the Nazi regime and its collaborators never became a priority.

The United States alone could not have prevented the Holocaust, but more could have been done to save some of the six million Jews who were killed. This exhibition examines the motives, pressures, and fears that shaped Americans’ responses to Nazism, war, and genocide.

Events tied to the exhibit

There are 9 events over the next 5 weeks to broaden your understanding of this historical event and  the Jewish experience.

The Memory Project: Connecting Art and History
Saturday, October 1, 2022, 2 p.m.
Second floor, Library

Developed by artist Roz Jacobs in memory of her uncle, Kalman, who died in the Holocaust, the Memory Project is a hands-on art workshop in which participants make portraits to honor victims, survivors, and rescuers. After watching a video about Kalman and a brief art lesson, participants use charcoal and black and white pastels to create portraits based on photographs of people affected by the Holocaust. The workshop will last 45 to 90 minutes. Note: Although the exhibition itself is designed for 8th grade and up, this workshop is appropriate for 6th grade and up, at a parent’s discretion. Participants of all ages are welcome.

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Hell Before Their Very Eyes: The Experiences of American Soldiers who Liberated or Witnessed Concentration Camps, April 1945
Speaker: Dr. John McManus, Curators’ Distinguished Professor of History, Missouri S&T
Wednesday, October 12, 2022, 6 p.m.
Second floor, Library

Drawing on the rich blend of archival sources and firsthand accounts that provided the foundation for his book Hell Before Their Very Eyes, Dr. McManus will discuss the realities of the liberation of Ohrdruf, Buchenwald, and Dachau.

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The Holocaust in Song – We Remember
Performance by the Rolla Choral Arts Society Community Choir
Monday, October 17, 2022, 7 p.m.
Main floor, Library

Performance of the Rolla Choral Arts Society Community Choir directed by Jeffery Sandquist. The program will feature selected movements from the “Holocaust Cantata – Songs from the Camps” by Donald McCollough and Michael Horvit.

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A Survivor Remembers the Holocaust
Speaker: Rachel Miller
Wednesday, October 19, 2022, 6 p.m.
St. Pat’s Ballroom B, Havener Center

As a “hidden child” during the Holocaust, Rachel Miller concealed her identity while living in constant fear of discovery. She survived the war, but millions of others did not, including 93 members of her own family. Acting as their voice, Rachel Miller tells her story in their honor.

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The German American Bund in Missouri
Speaker: Dr. Petra DeWitt, History and Political Science Professor, Missouri S&T
Thursday, October 20, 2022, 6 p.m.
Second floor, Library

A discussion exploring homegrown extremists during World War II. This event is both in person and online. Online connection information will be provided soon. This event is sponsored by the Missouri S&T Archives and the SHSMO – Rolla Research Center.

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Gangsters vs. Nazis
Speaker: Dr. Larry Dale Gragg, Emeritus History and Political Science Professor, Missouri S&T
Tuesday, October 25, 2022, 6 p.m.
Second floor, Library

A discussion focusing on American Jewish gangsters (Bugsy Siegel, Meyer Lansky) and their anti-Nazi efforts.  This event is both in person and online. Online connection information will be provided soon. This event is sponsored by the Missouri S&T Archives and the SHSMO – Rolla Research Center.

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Rabbi Ferdinand Isserman Sounds a Warning – Missourians and the Holocaust

October 1 – 31
Library, Second Floor

Rabbi Isserman traveled to pre-WWII Germany several times and reported back to Missourians, including the MSM campus, on the rising danger he found. Visit this exhibit to learn how Missourians experienced the Holocaust at home, on the battlefield, and as survivors.

This is a supplemental exhibit sponsored by Missouri S&T Archives and SHSMO-Rolla Research Center in association with National Archives Month and is a cooperative project meant to complement the ALA/USHMM exhibition by providing a more local focus.

Photo courtesy of the American Jewish Archives.

Accessing the Exhibition

Americans and the Holocaust will be on display at the Curtis Laws Wilson Library from September 18 to October 22, 2022.

The exhibition is free and open to the public during our posted exhibition hours.

Missouri University of Science and Technology campus map


  • The visitor parking lot is closed due to construction.
  • Street parking is available on St. Patrick’s Lane and North Pine Street. Metered parking is also accessible off of St. Patrick’s Lane.
    • Exhibit Parking Location map
    • Parking permit and meter regulations are enforced Monday to Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. while the university is in session.
    • After 4:30 p.m. and on weekends visitors may park in any lot on campus
    • Additional parking information available at Visitors Parking.
  • Group tour buses should drop their passengers off in the parking lot at Fulton Hall and then park at the Gale Bullman Building.

Visitor Accommodations

If you are an individual with a disability and require accommodation, please email [email protected] or call (573) 341-4008 during the exhibit hours at least 24 hours prior to your visit.


US propaganda poster
US propaganda poster, 1942. Library of Congress, POS – US.J71.H11

Schedule a Tour

To schedule a guided group visit to the Americans and the Holocaust exhibition at Missouri S&T, please complete this form. The form must be submitted at least 1 week before the requested visit dates. While we will do our best to accommodate every request we receive, submitting the form does not guarantee the requested dates. Group tours may only be scheduled from 8 am – 5 pm, Monday – Friday.

For questions or more information about the exhibition, please email [email protected] or call (573) 341-4008.

Americans and the Holocaust: A Traveling Exhibition for Libraries is an educational initiative of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the American Library Association.

Americans and the Holocaust was made possible by the generous support of lead sponsor Jeannie & Jonathan Lavine. Additional major funding was provided by the Bildners — Joan & Allen z”l, Elisa Spungen & Rob, Nancy & Jim; and Jane and Daniel Och. The Museum’s exhibitions are also supported by the Lester Robbins and Sheila Johnson Robbins Traveling and Special Exhibitions Fund, established in 1990.

About the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

A living memorial to the Holocaust, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum inspires leaders and citizens worldwide to confront hatred, prevent genocide, and promote human dignity. The Museum’s far-reaching educational programs and global impact are made possible by generous donors. For more information, visit ushmm.org.

About the American Library Association

The American Library Association (ALA) is the foremost national organization providing resources to inspire library and information professionals to transform their communities through essential programs and services. For more than 140 years, the ALA has been the trusted voice for academic, public, school, government and special libraries, advocating for the profession and the library’s role in enhancing learning and ensuring access to information for all. For more information, visit ala.org.