Visitor's Guide: You can download this helpful visitor's guide to make the most out of your visit.
A Note for Teachers: There is considerable information in this museum and you will need to think carefully about how to direct your students' time with the various exhibits. It is not necessary for anyone to see everything in the museum. The museum may take multiple pathways. You may begin each lesson with the "macro" by looking at one history exhibit and then Joseph and Myra's corresponding story for that time period. On such a path, you will move back-and-forth between the larger story and the individual experience. You may, however, decide that it is best to view Joseph and Myra's story as a separate unit from the larger history and do one completely before the either. The museum visit is set-up to accommodate either choice.
Depending on your students' reading levels and the amount of time that you have, I recommend you use groupwork strategies such as a jigsaw. For example, you might have each student in a group look at a different artifact about the Weimar Republic and then share out with each other.
I recommend visiting one or two exhibits to set-up the context, then perhaps to dig into the historiography to frame the larger questions of the Holocaust, and then to return to the history and stories. It is, of course, up to each teacher to construct the path that works best for his or her students.
You should save one day to watch Joseph Brandman's video testimony in the Destruction exhibit.
Lastly, remember that each exhibit has an audio recording of the background reading to help struggling readers accompany the text and there is also a Holocaust timeline to provide chronology.
A Note on Sources: The existence of this museum owes tremendous debt to the work of countless scholars of Holocaust history. The historiography page references many of these great intellectuals. Additionally, the museum relies heavily on the resources made available by four excellent websites:
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
German History in Documents and Images
The information about my grandparents' stories came mostly from my interview notes that I took in a discussion with them probably in the year 2003. I believe I took the video testimony of my grandfather in 2005. While my grandparents, and Joseph in particular, had extraordinary memories, I corroborated the information, including dates and numbers, with data provided by the USHMM. I found a remarkable degree of accuracy in my grandparents' memories.
Most of the artifacts about my grandparent's story, including their pictures, came from the hard work of my mother, Elenore Brandman, my aunt and uncle Frieda and Abe Anolik, and my cousin Jill Katzman. They dug through my grandparents' albums and keepsakes to find important sources to tell and show their story.
Additionally, I used the book On the Brink of Nowhere by Meir Levenstein to contextualize the experiences of Latvian Jews and fill in a few holes in the story. This was a book that my grandparents owned, written by a Latvian Holocaust survivor . It appears that Rabbi Paul Silton of Temple Israel in Albany worked with other members of the Albany Jewish community to translate the book from Hebrew and publish it in 1983.