Arizona’s Holocaust & Tolerance museum’s cornerstone artifact is unloaded onto land at the Port of Long Beach.
Arizona’s first Holocaust & Tolerance museum artifact — a Holocaust-era rail car from Macedonia — shall be revealed at the East Valley JCC’s Yom Ha’Shoah commemoration on April 17. Beginning at 4:30 p.m., the public is welcome to view the car, the only one of its kind west of the Mississippi at the Chandler Center for the Arts. Directly following, guests can attend Colonel Edward Shames: A War Hero Remembers at 6:30 p.m. World War II Veteran Colonel Shames will share for the first time his experiences liberating the Dachau concentration camp.
“The opportunity to receive the rail car arrived before we had a chance to build its permanent exhibit,” said Ben Benedict, Museum Steering Committee Chair. “However, the public deserves to have the powerful experience of viewing the car as soon as possible. It traveled 11,000 miles to make an impact.”
The 11-ton, 33-foot-long rail car is of the type and kind that Nazi Germany used to transport Holocaust victims to labor and death camps. While its history is heavy, those involved in the JCC’s museum project see the car’s potential to now be used for good — to educate people about the Holocaust and promote acceptance, social action and respect in a tumultuous time in modern history.
“Museums cannot simply be photos or artifacts on a wall,” said Steve Tepper, East Valley JCC Executive Director. “They must provide an experience to leave a lasting memory. A piece like this rail car gives future generations some context to understand the horror of the time period, so that they won’t let it happen again.”
The rail car reveal at 4:30 p.m. on April 17 is open to the public in the parking lot of Chandler Center for the Arts, 250 N. Arizona Ave., Chandler. Tickets for Colonel Edward Shames: A War Hero Remembers, are $5 for general admission and $2 for veterans or active service members. While tickets will be available on site, advanced purchases at www.evjcc.org or 480-897-0588 are recommended.