UCI News

UCI Libraries will host ‘Americans and the Holocaust’ traveling exhibition

Special events, secondary exhibit on the 1940s will complement the installation

January 20, 2022
UCI Libraries will host ‘Americans and the Holocaust’ traveling exhibition
The “Americans and the Holocaust” traveling exhibition, which opens Feb. 2 at UCI’s Jack Langson Library, poses two questions to visitors: “What did Americans know?” and “What more could have been done?” United States Holocaust Memorial Museum / American Library Association

Irvine, Calif., Jan. 20, 2022 — UCI Libraries is among 50 U.S. libraries – and the only one in Southern California – selected to host “Americans and the Holocaust,” a traveling exhibition based on the special exhibition of the same name at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.

On display in the lobby of the University of California, Irvine’s Jack Langson Library from Wednesday, Feb. 2, through Wednesday, March 9, the exhibition draws on a remarkable collection of primary sources to examine the motives, pressures and fears that shaped Americans’ responses to Nazism, war and genocide in Europe during the 1930s and 1940s.

“Americans and the Holocaust” will be accompanied by a complementary exhibit titled “Snapshots of Orange County in the 1940s: Spaces, Places, Faces.” This exhibit explores the cultural, economic and political landscape of Orange County through World War II, paying particular attention to the multicultural groups that first established the community and how the arrival of military facilities changed it. The supplemental exhibit will continue through this fall.

“These installations further UCI Libraries’ mission to preserve and share the cultural and historical record with both the campus and the greater community,” said UCI Chancellor Howard Gillman. “The questions they pose about individual responsibility in challenging times are timeless and apply as well today as they did 80 years ago.”

UCI Libraries’ inspiration to enter the competitive application process for the opportunity to host the “Americans and the Holocaust” traveling exhibition came from a unique source: U.S. Rep. Katie Porter from California’s 45th Congressional District.

“Orange County is fortunate to be home to top-notch schools, and UCI is no exception,” said Porter. “Its students, professors and faculty know that hate has no place in our community and that we must be clear-eyed about the past in order to create a better, more just and equitable future. I’m proud that UCI was chosen to host the traveling exhibition ‘Americans and the Holocaust,’ which honors the memories of those who were lost by speaking truth to the U.S. government’s inaction in the 1930s and 1940s.”

Based on extensive new research of that period, “Americans and the Holocaust” addresses important themes in U.S. history, exploring the many factors – including the Great Depression, isolationism, xenophobia, racism and antisemitism – that influenced decisions made by the government, the news media, organizations and individuals as they responded to Nazism.

Lorelei Tanji, UCI’s university librarian, said, “I think that this will be a very thought-provoking exhibition for people to visit, see and experience. It’s a gift for UCI Libraries to share this with the Southern California region and try to engage people in learning and understanding these very weighty issues that are still totally relevant today.”

UCI Libraries will host a series of related special events around the “Americans and the Holocaust” exhibition:

  • Southern California Exhibition Premiere: Americans and the Holocaust” is a kickoff event featuring guest speaker Rebecca Erbelding, lead historian of the traveling exhibition, on Thursday, Feb. 3, from 5:30-6:30 p.m.
  • A Journey through the Holocaust” is a conversation with a Holocaust survivor Solange Pullman-Fisch on Thursday, Feb. 10, from 5:30-6:30 p.m.
  • Author Discussion With Deborah Lipstadt” features Lipstadt discussing her latest book, Antisemitism: Here and Now, an analysis of current political trends that bolster prejudice and hostility toward Jews, on Wednesday, Feb. 16, from 12-1 p.m.
  • Author Discussion With Jeffrey Veidlinger” features Veidlinger discussing his new book, In the Midst of Civilized Europe: The Pogroms of 1918-1921 and the Onset of the Holocaust, in which he documents the murders of more than 100,000 Jews after the Russian Revolution by their fellow Ukrainians – a chilling foreshadowing of what was to come, on Thursday, Feb. 17, from 5:30-6:30 p.m.
  • Seeking Asylum: Then and Now With Rory Kennedy and Scott Miller” is an event at which Kennedy, a documentary filmmaker, and Miller, former director of curatorial affairs at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, will draw parallels between the historic impact of the asylum-seeking voyage of the MS St. Louis in 1939 and the modern-day refugee crises around the globe on Tuesday, March 1, from 5:30-6:30 p.m.
  • Confronting Extremism: A Conversation With Deborah Lipstadt and Douglas M. Haynes” is an event at which Lipstadt and Haynes, UCI vice chancellor for equity, diversity & inclusion and professor of history, will talk about confronting extremism and antisemitism in today’s world on Tuesday, March 8, from 5:30-6:30 p.m.

All events will be held online via Zoom and are free and open to the public, but registration is required. If you are unable to attend, a recording will be available on the UCI Libraries’ YouTube Channel.

The “Americans and the Holocaust” exhibition will be on display during regular library hours, which can be found at lib.uci.edu/hours. For more information and related programming at UCI Libraries, visit lib.uci.edu/americans. To learn more about the exhibition, go to ushmm.org/americans-ala.

“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. It was made possible by the generous support of lead sponsor Jeannie and 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 University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UCI is the youngest member of the prestigious Association of American Universities and is ranked among the nation’s top 10 public universities by U.S. News & World Report. The campus has produced five Nobel laureates and is known for its academic achievement, premier research, innovation and anteater mascot. Led by Chancellor Howard Gillman, UCI has more than 36,000 students and offers 224 degree programs. It’s located in one of the world’s safest and most economically vibrant communities and is Orange County’s largest employer, contributing $7 billion annually to the local economy and $8 billion statewide. For more on UCI, visit www.uci.edu.

About UCI’s Brilliant Future campaign: Publicly launched on Oct. 4, 2019, the Brilliant Future campaign aims to raise awareness and support for UCI. By engaging 75,000 alumni and garnering $2 billion in philanthropic investment, UCI seeks to reach new heights of excellence in student success, health and wellness, research and more. The UCI Libraries play a vital role in the success of the campaign. Learn more at https://brilliantfuture.uci.edu/uci-libraries.

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 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.

Media access: Radio programs/stations may, for a fee, use an on-campus ISDN line to interview UCI faculty and experts, subject to availability and university approval. For more UCI news, visit news.uci.edu. Additional resources for journalists may be found at communications.uci.edu/for-journalists.