Jewish Holocaust Center

History

The Jewish Holocaust Centre is an institution dedicated to the memory of the six million Jews who were murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators between 1933 and 1945. We consider the finest memorial to all victims of racist policies to be an educational program which aims to combat anti-Semitism, racism and prejudice in the community and foster understanding between people. The Jewish Holocaust Centre was the fulfilment of a vision by Melbourne Holocaust survivors to create a memorial to the millions of Jews who were murdered between 1933 and 1945. The Centre was established under the patronage of Yad Vashem, Jerusalem and, from its humble beginnings in 1984, has grown to become an active and internationally-recognised institution dedicated to combating racism, hatred and prejudice by fostering tolerance and understanding. The Centre was founded without large government or other grants, relying on the generous donation of time, materials and money from Holocaust survivors, their families and other supporters. Following a generous donation from the late Mina Fink in memory of her late husband, Leo Fink, an old double-story building (a former dance school) was purchased and subsequently turned into a space suitable for housing exhibitions and a library.

Records Management and Collecting Policies

The JHC is an accredited museum that complies with the Museums Australia audited standards. Our artefacts are carefully conserved and preserved. They are professionally handled and housed. We are working hard to digitise our collection, to increase and promote access for researchers and families worldwide.

Archival and Other Holdings

The Jewish Holocaust Centre houses an extensive collection of materials related to the Holocaust, most of which have been donated by Holocaust survivors who migrated to Melbourne. The artefacts collection contains material evidence of the various experiences of Jewish victims and survivors of the Holocaust.

Since the JHC opened its doors in 1984, the collection has grown to nearly 18,000 artefacts. These include original documents, photographs, textiles, and artworks from the Holocaust era. These present evidence of oppression under Nazism that was experienced in ghettos, concentration, labour and death camps, hiding and false identities, resistance, migration, and acts of courage.

The JHC has more than 1,300 video testimonies as well as over 200 audio testimonies in its collection predominantly from survivors from the Polish, German, Czech, Dutch, Russian, Hungarian, Austrian, French and Greek communities of Europe who have now settled in Australia, mostly from the Melbourne community. These provide eyewitness accounts of the atrocities committed during the Holocaust, as well as glimpses into the vibrancy of pre-war Jewish life in Europe.

The JHC art collection includes works created by Holocaust survivors after the end of WWII, as witness testimony. Key pieces include Chaim Sztajer’s model of Treblinka death camp (completed and installed in 1985) and artist Walter Preisser’s series of woodcuts that illustrate his experiences in various camps throughout the war (woodblocks were carved c.1946). Sarah Saaroni created a series of terracotta and cast bronze sculptures, including one of Polish-Jewish educator Janusz Korczak surrounded by his orphans. Monumental works by professional artists include Peter Schipperheyn’s black granite Eternal Flame (1999), and Andrew Rogers’ silicon-cast bronze installation titled Pillars of Witness. These six columns depict well-known images from the Holocaust, as well as Jewish motifs.

The JHC also has a library with thousands of books covering the rise of Nazism, the Second World War and post-Holocaust analyses. Recent additions to the library include prose and books written by Melbourne survivors, copies of reports and papers presented at selected Holocaust-related conferences, journals, periodicals and booklets from other museums and research centres around the world. Journals and documents are available in a number of languages including Hebrew, Yiddish, French, English, German, Hungarian, Russian and Polish.

A range of resources is available to assist people researching their family history or planning a visit to Poland, such as maps, reference material and population data. A selection of Yizkor books (commemorative books of places and people) written in memory of those who were murdered, provides descriptions of once-thriving Jewish communities of Europe that have since disappeared. Another section of the library contains volumes listing the names of ghetto inmates as well as registers of survivors compiled after the war.

Rare or significant original books and paper records are housed separately from the general library in environmentally controlled conditions that ensure their preservation. The JHC also holds copies of local publications, articles and newspaper clippings covering events run by the Holocaust centre and video recordings and photographs of functions, book launches, Holocaust commemorations and other special events. Access to these items can be obtained by appointment with the JHC.

The JHC Library is linked to the Jewish Community Library Network, which combines the collections of the Lamm Jewish Library of Australia (formerly Makor Library) with those of six other Melbourne Jewish libraries. The online catalogue can be accessed from the JHC’s library or from the following sites:

Opening Times

Sunday: 12pm - 4pm Monday to Thursday: 10am - 4pm Friday: 10am - 3pm

Closed Saturday, some Public Holidays and Jewish Holy Days

Conditions of Access

Getting There If you are driving to the Centre, please click here to view a map , or you can find us at Melways Ref: 67 F3

Public Transport Tram and train services provide transport to nearby Glenhuntly Road, which is only a two minute walk to the Centre. Timetable details can be obtained from Metlink by calling 131 638 or via : www.metlinkmelbourne.com. Train – Sandringham Line service from the City Alight at Elsternwick Station, which is approximately two minutes walk to the Centre. Travel time from the City (Flinders Street Railway station) is about 14 minutes. Tram – Number 67 from the City to Glenhuntly Alight at stop number 44. Approximate travel time from the City (Melbourne Town Hall) is about 30 minutes

Accessibility

Wheelchair and lift access is available and a toilet for the disabled is located on the lower ground floor. Parking for the disabled is available in Selwyn Street. Visitors can contact the Centre to discuss any special needs they have before their visit.

Research Services

The JHC's library team can provide Holocaust family tracing assistance in sourcing and evaluating resources and specialists

Sources