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View Full Version : What to do with WWII/Dachau photos?


Beadalin
09-28-2007, 12:21 PM
Not sure if this is the right forum for this, but I'd like opinions on what we should do with some photos.

My husband's dad (who died long before I came along) acted as photographer for his unit, and it was his division that ultimately liberated Dachau.

My brother-in-law, Gene, now possesses the photos that my father-in-law took throughout the war. A large number of them are of Dachau -- his division's approach, the prisoners, the corpses, the grounds, the facilities. My husband saw them once as a child by, as he put it, poking around in drawers he shouldn't have been poking around in. The images still haunt him. My husband's dad never talked about his wartime experiences and would immediately change the subject when asked, so no one knows what his wishes for the photos might have been.

Our whole family has been watching the Ken Burns documentary, which led to Gene asking my husband what he thought should be done with their dad's photos. Gene has contacted the Army (in which Gene also served) but never received much of a response. He's now thinking of donating the pictures to the Holocaust museum in D.C.

What else should we consider doing with them? What use would you put them to, if any?

brownie55
09-28-2007, 12:23 PM
The Holocaust Musem was my first thought.

An Gadaí
09-28-2007, 12:32 PM
They could be also be scanned and put online somewhere.

Larry Borgia
09-28-2007, 12:49 PM
I know someone who works at the Holocaust Museum as an archivist. They're always interested in material.

Beadalin
09-28-2007, 12:53 PM
Larry, would it be possible for you to put us in touch? Part of the problem is that we don't know where to start.

Larry Borgia
09-28-2007, 12:55 PM
Larry, would it be possible for you to put us in touch? Part of the problem is that we don't know where to start.I'll see what I can do. I should see him in a couple of days.

Sampiro
09-28-2007, 01:06 PM
Stephen Spielberg endowed the Shoah Institute (http://www.usc.edu/schools/college/vhi/) at the University of Southern California. They would also LOVE to have them. They collect and preserve anything connected to the Holocaust.

Dangerosa
09-28-2007, 02:02 PM
You could also call the Minnesota Historical Society. They are interested in things that happened to Minnesotans as well as things that happened in Minnesota. They certainly have less of that sort of material than the Holocaust museum or Shoah Institute - and if they think its more appropriate for them to be one of those places, they will probably tell you.

Beadalin
09-28-2007, 04:56 PM
Thank you for the suggestions. I wasn't aware of the Shoah Institute, so that could be a good match. The MN Historical Society is an angle I hadn't considered at all -- I'll get in touch with them. Thanks!

Gulo gulo
09-28-2007, 04:57 PM
How about contacting the museum at Dachau and seeing if they would be interested in adding any of the photos (or copies of them) to their collection?

Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial (http://www.kz-gedenkstaette-dachau.de/englisch/content/)

Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor
09-28-2007, 05:03 PM
Contact the Government of Israel, & ask their advice.

They gotta have a website.

Quartz
09-28-2007, 05:38 PM
I wouldn't donate them to a major archive: they'll just get filed with all the others. Keep them in an album as a special item of family history. And when some neo-Nazi twonk says that the camps didn't exist, you can bring out the album.

And do scan them and put them online.

Zoe
09-28-2007, 09:34 PM
Keeping them private would be the last thing I would do with them.

Until you decide, I hope they are stored in a safe place favorable to photographs. You know they can fade. I don't know if the negatives can deteriorate.

SpoilerVirgin
09-28-2007, 09:56 PM
The Donations (http://www.ushmm.org/research/collections/donation/) page of the U.S. Holocaust Museum's website describes the materials they are looking for (they would definitely be interested in your photos) and provides a number of different ways to contact them.

Moirai
09-28-2007, 10:07 PM
I came in to post about the Shoah Institute, but Sampiro beat me to it. The Simon Wiesenthal Center might also be interested.

Hell, offer copies to everybody, and be sure that the originals are safe.

Paul in Qatar
09-28-2007, 11:49 PM
Related, Brigadier General Felix Sparks (http://www.rockymountainnews.com/drmn/local/article/0,1299,DRMN_15_5408823,00.html) has died. He led the 157th Infantry into Dachau. Hell of a man.

Moirai
09-29-2007, 10:07 AM
Damn, that was a tough article to read. Apparently, the liberation of Dachau was the least of that man's heroic deeds... :(

Fretful Porpentine
09-29-2007, 10:25 AM
Related, Brigadier General Felix Sparks (http://www.rockymountainnews.com/drmn/local/article/0,1299,DRMN_15_5408823,00.html) has died. He led the 157th Infantry into Dachau. Hell of a man.
That article gave me the shivers. Thanks for posting it.

Paul in Qatar
09-29-2007, 11:01 AM
A life well-lived. Someday I will start a periodic thread on the subject here.

Elenfair
09-29-2007, 11:17 AM
The Brigadier General was one hell of a man.

Beadalin
09-29-2007, 11:39 AM
I don't know why, but it hadn't occurred to me that we could donate to more than one place. I see Quartz's point that a major archive wouldn't necessarily display any of them, so a smaller place might benefit more. Giving them to more than one place -- or dividing the cache, even -- might have more impact.

I need to ask Gene if the film is with the photos or not, too. Thanks for the ideas, everyone.

dangermom
09-29-2007, 12:02 PM
I wouldn't think that splitting up the collection is a good idea; there's a lot of value in a coherent collection of items that is lost when you split them up and treat them as bits and pieces.

Dangerosa
09-29-2007, 01:49 PM
I wouldn't think that splitting up the collection is a good idea; there's a lot of value in a coherent collection of items that is lost when you split them up and treat them as bits and pieces.

Agreed, especially to a historian.

chappachula
09-29-2007, 04:19 PM
the granddaddy of all Holocaust memorials is in Israel.
http://www.yadvashem.org

But since your material is specifically linked to the US Army, the holocaust museum in Washington may be a better place for it.

Whatever you do, please don't keep the information private.

(It may be a good idea to professionally scan/copy the photos, and give the copies to the local or state historical society. But it sounds like you have serious material that should be seen by professional historians/curators whose expertise is the Holocaust, not Minnesota)

And think about also giving copies to local high schools.