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Published: Monday, 11/26/2007

Museum remembering Holocaust opens in Delphos

ASSOCIATED PRESS

DELPHOS, Ohio A former postmaster has fulfilled his dream of gathering and displaying memorabilia, mostly letters, relating to the Holocaust and World War II.

Founder Gary Levitt, Holocaust survivors and others opened the new exhibit this month in the lower level of the post office of this northwest Ohio village. Many of the items were obtained from museums in Washington, D.C.

Rabbi Sol Oster blessed the new permanent exhibit and offered a prayer that mankind would be brought together in brotherhood and goodwill.

Author Liesl Sondheimer of Lima is grateful the exhibit tells what happened to Jews in that time period.

My husband and I and our two children fled penniless in September 1938, she recalled. We went to England and then to New York. We feared for our lives.

Sondheimer stressed the importance of keeping the Holocaust in remembrance.

There are only a few of us left who lived through those events. Pretty soon it will be forgotten because there is no one to remind us, she said.

Murray Cohen of the Ethel and Nathan Cohen Foundation agreed with Sondheimer.

When we look back on history, we hope that the Holocaust taught the world a lesson. When Eisenhower planned to visit one of the concentration camps, there were 11,000 to 12,000 prisoners killed just days before he arrived, Cohen said. He ordered photographers to the camp to take pictures so the world would know what happened there.

One museum exhibit tells the story of how two cousins, one in Germany and one in the U.S, bolstered each other s spirits by writing letters during the war years. The cousin in Germany and most of his family perished in the Holocaust, but a daughter managed to escape and joined the other cousin in West Virginia, Levitt said.

This exhibit is a testament to the fact that the written word has sustained people through terrible times in our history, Levitt said.

Murals in the exhibit depict a concentration camp and a railroad box car filled with prisoners. The paintings draw one in to a glimpse of the Holocaust.

One exhibit was created by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington for the National Postal Museum.

It begins with the story of the SS St. Louis, a ship bound from Germany to Havana with 930 refugees. Films concerning this voyage will be shown in the local museum theater, including one with personal accounts of survivors of the voyage.

Levitt also is displaying letters sent by what was known as V Mail. Handwritten letters were copied onto microfilm and sent in tubes to their destination. Once there, they would be projected onto paper, much like photographic development, Levitt said.

Levitt, 57, said he was inspired by Holocaust survivors he knows and by his own Jewish history.

It s also part of my heritage, he said.

Read more in later editions of The Blade and toledoblade.com.



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