Reminders of the Holocaust persist as photographs, artifacts, and audio recordings, but some of the most moving remnants from the period can be found in the pages of diaries. The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum is home to hundreds of journals filled with the firsthand accounts of people entangled in the genocide. Now, it’s unrolling a plan make these documents more accessible to the public. As Mental Floss contributor Erin Blakemore reports for Smithsonian, the museum hopes to crowdfund $250,000 through Kickstarter to digitize, preserve, and translate over 200 diaries from the Holocaust.
The campaign, titled “Save Their Stories: The Undiscovered Diaries of the Holocaust,” launched on June 11, one day before Anne Frank’s birthday. The Kickstarter page reads:
“Most people are familiar with the diary of Anne Frank, and her personal account is often the first introduction that many have to the devastating history of the Holocaust. But it’s not the only diary of its kind. "Each of the diaries in our collection has an important story to tell, of suffering and strength, persecution and perseverance. Written by people young and old, from diverse backgrounds and countries, they bring to life a broad spectrum of individuals’ experiences during the Holocaust. Now, in the face of growing Holocaust denial, we must bring more stories to light before we lose the firsthand memories of survivors and witnesses who can shed light on the context of these diaries and other priceless artifacts in the Museum’s collection.”
The museum will use the money it raises to digitize the diaries and make them available to the public online. The plan also includes the transcription and translation of the diaries of three Jewish refugees who were forced to leave their homes during World War II. The three diary authors selected for translation are Joseph Strip, a boy who scribbled his accounts in a math notebook; Lucien Dreyfus, a journalist and teacher who survived Auschwitz; and Hans Vogel, a boy who drew maps tracing his escape from Paris.
If the Holocaust Memorial Museum reaches its funding goal by July 13, you can expect to see the diaries on its website by the end of 2019.