The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., launched today a Kickstarter campaign to catalog, preserve, and digitize 200 diaries from victims and survivors of the Holocaust; three of them will also be transcribed and translated. The USHMM chose to launch the fundraiser on June 12 because it’s the birthday of Anne Frank, who would have been 88 years old today.
The museum is hoping that the accessibility of these diaries will serve as educational resources for generations to come. Dana Weinstein, the museum’s director of membership and new audience engagement, said that Anne Frank’s story is a catalyst for younger generations looking to connect with the Holocaust. “They can identify with a young girl’s hopes and dreams,” she said.
As of this publishing, the campaign, called “Save Their Stories: The Undiscovered Diaries of the Holocaust,” has collected over $23,000 of its stated goal of $250,000. If the USHMM reaches its fundraising goal, all 200 diaries will be safeguarded and made available online, but the money only goes so far: Just three of these diaries will be transcribed and translated. They are:
The diary of Joseph Strip (formerly Stripounsky), a young boy who wrote about his family’s harrowing experience over the grid-lined pages of his math notebook.
The papers of Lucien Dreyfus, a journalist and schoolteacher from Strasbourg, France, who was deported to Auschwitz in 1943. His collection includes letters to his daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter who escaped to the United States in 1942.
The diary of Hans Vogel, who fled Paris with his family while his father was interned, which contains hand-drawn and colored maps of their journey.
When asked whether the campaign had anything to do the White House’s proposed budget cuts to the museum, its representatives said, adamantly, that it does not. “We’ve been talking about this project since last summer,” said Weinstein.
The museum is also hoping that they’ll be able to take advantage of Kickstarter’s “stretch goals,” which allows supporters to continue donating after the initial goal has been reached. An extra $100,000 would allow the museum to transcribe and translate 24 additional diaries.
USHMM is constantly receiving more and more diaries. They expect their collection to double in the next 10 years, making support from donors paramount. Preserving these diaries means preserving the legacies of the people who wrote them.
Sophie Aroesty is an editorial intern at Tablet.