All programs are free and open to the public. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis.
Please note: Schedule is subject to change.
Who Will Tell Their Stories?
Honoring Holocaust Survivors and World War II Veterans
Join us as we pay tribute to the men and women in your local community who survived Nazi persecution and those who fought to liberate Europe. Opening with the dramatic presentation of the flags of the US Army liberating divisions, this special ceremony will be the highlight of the day. Bring your entire family to share in this historic occasion as we gather the wartime generation and call on the next generation to carry Holocaust memory into the future.
Main Stage Programs
These programs bring together historians, journalists, thought leaders, and Museum experts to explore why the Holocaust happened and what lessons it holds for us today. Each program includes opportunities for audience participation.
The Unanswerable Question: Why? [1–2 p.m.]
Join us for a discussion about one of history’s great questions with Museum Director Sara Bloomfield and distinguished historian Dr. Peter Hayes. Knowing that the Holocaust happened in one of the most educated, advanced societies of the world, perpetrated by a nation—albeit a struggling one—with a democratic constitution, a rule of law, and freedom of expression, will we ever be able to answer “Why?”
It’s Not My Problem. Why Get Involved? [2–3 p.m.]
The Museum challenges us to think about the motivating forces behind individual acts during the Holocaust. Who were the people who risked great personal danger in trying to save friends, acquaintances, and strangers? What influenced the vast majority of ordinary people to look away, do nothing, or comply with the Nazis? What can we learn from these events as individuals and as a society to act responsibly? This panel, moderated by Sarah Ogilvie, director of the Museum's National Institute for Holocaust Education, features Shankar Vedantam, author of The Hidden Brain, Museum Historian William F. Meinecke, and Eyal Press, author of Beautiful Souls: Saying No, Breaking Ranks, and Heeding the Voice of Conscience in Dark Times.
Technology in the Hands of Haters: Imagine www.thirdreich.com [3–4 p.m.]
"Propaganda," Adolf Hitler wrote in 1924, "is a truly terrible weapon in the hands of an expert.” During the subsequent two decades, Nazi leaders used the latest technology of their day, such as radio, to communicate their platform in bold, new ways. What might the Nazis have done with the Internet and social media at their disposal? Is there any way to measure technology’s impact on how hate spreads? This panel, moderated by veteran journalist Marvin Kalb, features Danielle Citron, author of the forthcoming Hate 3.0: The Rise of Discriminatory Online Harassment and How to Stop It, screenwriter Eli Attie, and Steven Luckert, curator of the Museum’s special exhibition State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda.
Preventing Genocide Today [4–5 p.m.]
In the decades after the Holocaust, the world stood by as genocide was committed in Bosnia, Rwanda, Sudan, and elsewhere. Mike Abramowitz, director of the Museum’s Center for the Prevention of Genocide, will moderate a panel discussion with foreign policy experts David Scheffer and Richard S. Williamson on why the admonition Never Again has remained so elusive.
What can we learn from the actions of individuals during the Holocaust that can help us shape the future as we want it to be? These engaging, highly participatory workshops challenge you to think about personal responsibility and individual choice.
Collaboration and Complicity: Who Was Responsible for the Holocaust? [10–11 a.m., 1–2 p.m., 3–4 p.m.]
Join us for a small group discussion about the types of behavior during the Holocaust that challenge us to think deeply about the moral dilemmas that arise in our own lives. Led by Warren Marcus, this program will include a peek at the Museum’s new special exhibition, Some Were Neighbors: Collaboration and Complicity in the Holocaust.
Mind Over Media: Are You More Powerful than Propaganda? [12:15–1 p.m., 2–3 p.m., 4–5 p.m.]
Join Steve Luckert, the curator of the Museum's special exhibition, State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda, for a discussion about the power and perils of Nazi propaganda. Together, we will explore how the Nazis promoted their platform to millions of people via posters, photographs, film, and radio.
Film and Video
Original and rarely seen films from the Museum archives are screened throughout the day as experts discuss their origins, preservation, and historical significance.
SHOAH Outtakes [9–10 a.m., 2–3 p.m.]
Outtakes from Claude Lanzmann's groundbreaking film
Liberation and Return to Life [10–11 a.m., 1–2 p.m.]
View liberation and its immediate aftermath through the eyes of the American soldiers who entered Nazi concentration camps in the spring of 1945, and amateur footage that shows the rebuilding of the personal, political, and religious lives of Holocaust survivors in displaced persons camps.
Projections of Life: Jewish Life before the Holocaust [12:15–1 p.m., 4–5 p.m.]
Rare, intimate home movies—shot by hobbyists recording family milestones, vacations, and more—provide a glimpse into the lives of individuals who were soon swept into the destruction of the Holocaust.
Europe on the Brink of War [3–4 p.m.]
Eyewitness footage from three of the Museum’s film collections provides a close-up look at some of the most pivotal moments in Holocaust history. See what three Americans captured with their cameras as German troops entered Austria in 1938 and as Warsaw fell siege to the Nazis one year later.
Special Museum Programs
Every new artifact discovered, testimony recorded, and history uncovered is essential to preserving the memory of the Holocaust and ensuring the world continues to learn from it. These innovative projects showcase the power of evidence to transmit history to new generations.
A Different World: Poland's Jews 1919–1945 [9–10 a.m., 10–11 a.m.]
This film, directed and produced by the Museum's Raye Farr, offers a glimpse at the vibrant lives of Polish Jews before World War II.
Little-known Stories of Rescue and Refuge in Latin America [12:15–1 p.m., 3–4 p.m.]
While the major events of the Holocaust took place in and around Europe between 1933 and 1945, Latin America played a role in refuge and rescue thousands of miles away. View rarely seen Museum archival collections and hear about the daring diplomatic rescue efforts led by Latin American men and women who protected thousands of victims from Nazi persecution. With Christina Chavarria
The Church and the Holocaust [1–2 p.m.]
The Holocaust raises profound theological, ethical, and historical questions for people of all faiths. Join us for a discussion of the Museum's groundbreaking work in these fields, including the acquisition of unique archival collections such as portions of the secret Vatican archives related to the Holocaust. With Victoria Barnett, Suzanne Brown-Fleming, and Dan Napolitano
Time Capsule in a Milk Can: Emanuel Ringelblum and the Secret Archives of the Warsaw Ghetto [2–3 p.m., 4–5 p.m.]
A group of several dozen writers, teachers, rabbis, and historians led by Dr. Emanuel Ringelblum documented life in the Warsaw ghetto in a secret operation code-named Oneg Shabbat (Hebrew for “Sabbath delight”). They wrote diaries, collected documents, commissioned papers, and preserved the posters and decrees that comprised the memory of the doomed community. The archive was placed in three milk cans and some metal boxes and buried in the cellars of several Warsaw buildings. Co-commissioned by the Smithsonian and the Museum, Marc Spiegel's emotionally gripping one-man theatrical performance explores this history. It is recommended for ages ten and above.
Remember Me? [3–4 p.m.]
What happens when there is no record of your childhood? Hear the remarkable stories of how children orphaned by the Holocaust are being identified today through the Museum’s website and learning about their past experiences. With Jude Richter
Spotlight on Collections
Everyday Objects: What Makes the Ordinary Extraordinary?[10–11 a.m, 12:15–1 p.m., 2–3 p.m.]
Museum curators share the behind-the-scenes stories of how some of our most unusual collections are discovered, sometimes after years of neglect or storage, and the innovative preservation techniques that are used to give these “extraordinary” ordinary objects a new life.
10 a.m.: Learn about artifacts donated by Chicago-area residents. With Suzy Snyder
12:15 p.m.: Through their artifacts, view the war through the eyes of American POWs and liberators. With Kyra Schuster
2 p.m.: Hear the story behind the gripping and poignant letter written by a woman about to be murdered at Auschwitz. With Judith Cohen
Americans and the Holocaust [1–2 p.m., 4–5 p.m.]
View artifacts and hear stories about the American response to the Holocaust that provoke discussion about what our government could have done then and what lessons this history holds for us today. With Jennifer Ciardelli and Scott Miller
[9–11 a.m., 12:15–7 p.m.]
The Museum’s Permanent Exhibition concludes with a powerful film of Holocaust survivors’ testimony. For the first time since the Museum opened in 1993, this film is being shown outside the Museum’s walls. It will run continuously throughout the day.
Rescuing the Evidence
[9–11 a.m., 12:15–7 p.m.]
With each passing year, the work of preserving Holocaust survivors’ legacies before it is too late becomes more urgent. Find out about how you can safeguard your family history for generations to come. Museum curators will be on site to review your personal artifacts and discuss opportunities to donate them to the Museum’s growing collection.
Family Research/World Memory Project
[9–11 a.m., 12:15–7 p.m.]
Opportunities to conduct Holocaust-era family research in the Museum’s extensive archive and to participate in the World Memory Project.
Building Blocks of Hope
[9–11 a.m., 12:15–5 p.m.]
In this hands-on art project, children and their families are invited to create messages of remembrance, peace, hope, and freedom that will be collected and digitized alongside others from across the country. Make sure your voice is included in the Museum’s national campaign to keep memory alive as a constant reminder that the future is ours to shape.
[9–11 a.m., 12:15–7 p.m.]
Museum staff will record short statements from Holocaust survivors and World War II veterans.