It’s a ‘G’ Thing: NYC woman reflects on family heirlooms she’s donated to new Holocaust museum

 

"Herman is my father, and Dora my mother,” she said.

It’s a bittersweet trip down memory lane for Ruthie Rosenbaum, as she looks through items from the Holocaust that belonged to her parents.

"Those are ration cards as you can see from a town called Bamburg," she showed me.

Like so many who were Jewish, they were forced from their homes and persecuted.

"He was taken to a labor camp and was basically doing slave labor,” Rosenbaum explained. "My mother, very often, had nightmares, that Nazis were coming to get her.”

The two of them made it out alive, and first met at a Displaced Persons Camp after the war.

"My father was a watchmaker, and he opened up some sort of store," she said. "And my mother had a watch that broke so she went to fix it and that’s how they met.”

Despite having almost nothing, they found love. and quickly married, making sure to follow tradition.

"The Jewish marriage contract, it’s called Ketubah and it’s a very meaningful thing," she showed us.

After trying for years, the couple was finally given a chance to come to the United States. They made a life here, had two children, and many grandchildren.

"This is my favorite picture of them, this is from my oldest daughter's wedding and they just look so happy," she smiled.

Ruthie’s parents have both since passed away and while going through their things, she found a binder full of pictures, documents and other heirlooms.

"I called my sister and said i found a treasure today in mommy’s drawer," Rosenbaum remembered..

Rich in history and culture, and she wanted to share it.

"Many survivors are gone and I feel it's our responsibility and our obligation to make sure their story goes forward," she said.

So she decided to donate everything to the Amud Aish Memorial Museum and Kleinman Holocaust Education Center.

“This museum is unique in that most other museums focus on the perpetrator," Rabbi Sholom Friedmann, museum director explained. "Our focus is more on the victim and the victim's experiences."

It’s currently in development and at a temporary space in Mill, Basin, Brooklyn, serving as a way of educating younger generations before opening up to the public early next year.

"When kids come and see artifacts, it makes the story we're discussing with them and the history of the holocaust that much more real to them," Friedmann added

They’ve collected and preserved close to one million pieces from hundreds of different donors all kept organized, in a temperature-controlled room.

“This is a concentration camp uniform," he showed us. "It went through four different camps and is very important to us."

A somber museum, yes, but also a necessary one. And like so many family members of survivors, Ruthie knows how important it is to never forget what happened.

“Mom and dad are looking down and seeing what has happened to your life, what are they saying? " I asked Rosenbaum. "I think they would be proud."

 

Produced by: Kim Pestalozzi