This Year's Project: Holocaust Rails, a project of Tolerance Week
About Our Organization
Tolerance Week is a 501-c3 organization. The mission of Tolerance Week is to educate, enlighten and inspire. Using documentary films, live performances and lectures we educate and enlighten students, families, teachers and community leaders about the Holocaust and other injustices. We encourage teachers and students to identify sources of discrimination and injustice within their communities and to work to eliminate them. Each year since, we have provided Holocaust education for area students and thousands have met a survivor.
Current Project: Holocaust Rails, a project of Tolerance Week
Tolerance Week, Inc. has been providing Holocaust education to students, teachers, and families since 2005. Over 50,000 have heard a Holocaust Survivor speak about their personal experiences during the Holocaust. In an effort to broaden the scope of Holocaust education beyon one week a year, we have partnered with the Sioux City Railroad Museum to create a Holocaust exhibit in Bay 6 of the historic Milwaukee Road Roundhouse. The centerpiece of the exhibit is a replica railcar, symbolizing the transition from person to number for prisoners on their way to Death and Concentration camps. The immersive exhibit begins with the changes for Jews and other groups experiences before the war began, then takes the visitor through the replica railcar. the arrival at camp and life in the camps. The exhibit also includes many photographs and artifacts from the Holocaust, and video testimony from survivors.
There is an exhibit featuring camp survivors and Holocaust educators Philip Gans and Inge Auerbacher. Philip Gans began traveling to Sioux City in 2005 to speak to Siouxland students about his Auschwitz and other camp experiences as a teenager. He was the only member of his father’s family to survive. His personal artifacts, the prison uniform jacket he wore when speaking to students, and other items are displayed, along with his testimony. Terezin Camp survivor Inge Auerbacher spent three years at the Czech Republic Concentration Camp. She and her parents were liberated and made the journey to New York where Inge would spend years recovering from tuberculosis, which she contracted at Terezin. She has been educating Siouxland students during Tolerance Week since 2015. Her photos, IDs, and family documents are displayed along with her testimony.
Next there is an exhibit of photos from Vernon Tott, a Sioux City native who was an army tank driver serving in Germany at the end of World War II. As his unit was liberating a small concentration camp called Ahlem, near Hanover, Tott snapped some photos of the liberated prisoners. Late in his life, he set out to try to find the men he photographed. Before his death, he had identified nearly twenty of them. The photos in this exhibit provide a real connection to Sioux City.
Our intent in designing this museum exhibit was to give visitors a visceral understanding of what it was like to enter the railcar as a person, with a family, an occupation, a life, and exit the railcar as nothing more than a number, stripped of all humanity. Visitors leave the Holocaust Rails Exhibit with a new understanding of the Holocaust, having come face to face with the consequences of hate and unchecked evil.