03_11_12_Holocaust_In an unassuming building on US 41, lies a building containing many stories, of persecution, torture and terror.  On the other hand, it also contains stories of bravery, strength, and survival.

Founded by GNL Class III members, the Holocaust Museum of Southwest Florida is one of Naples’ “Best Kept Secrets.”

Ann Jacobson, Founder President in 2001, asked the Jewish Federation of Collier County to form a steering committee of community leaders to establish a Holocaust museum that would be based on the Golden Gate Middle School project Out of the Ashes, conceived by David Bell, seventh grade teacher. The steering committee included Ann and GNL Class III alumni Charles Dauray, Kim Long, Mollie Ottina.

In 1994, a law was passed by the Florida legislature that Holocaust History must be taught in public schools and Ann convinced the school district to underwrite field trips to the museum, which have continued to this day. The museum reaches an average of 17,000 local school children annually, both through museum trips and visiting an authentic boxcar in which Nazis transported Jews during WWII. It is a museum for all citizens, not just children.

The museum is planning a tenth anniversary gala celebration on February 28, 2012.

Trained volunteer docent guides provide museum tours to both museum visitors and school children.  Survivors tell their stories during these visits.  Volunteers can get involved on many levels, as docents, administrative assistants and work events and program committees.  To get involved, visit www.holocaustmuseumswfl.org.

Poet and philosopher, George Santayana, wrote: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” (from “Life of Reason I”).  The Holocaust Museum serves as a reminder.

Photo courtesy Holocaust Museum.