Holocaust survivor exhibition in Arizona

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The Arizona Jewish Historical Society is offering free admission on Wednesdays in August to its current exhibition, “Stories of Survival: An Immersive Journey Through the Holocaust.”

Executive Director Lawrence Bell of the Arizona Jewish Historical Society discussed the new exhibition on Arizona Horizon.

“The exhibit features four stories of Holocaust survivors who are residents of Arizona,” Bell said.

The exhibit contains artifacts from the survivors and the use of top-tier technology including the use of virtual reality and a two-dimensional holographic image of local survivor, Oskar Knoblauch, who resides in Scottsdale. Visitors can interact and ask the hologram questions about the Holocaust and his life as a child, which makes them feel like they are actually speaking with Knoblauch.

“We filmed this survivor (Knoblauch), who at the time was 95 years old. He was filmed in 2020. It’s his answers; they asked him a number of questions in this interview process. We are the only site in Phoenix that has this capability. You just have a conversation with him,” Bell said.

The virtual reality piece of the exhibit allows visitors to tour a real-life concentration camp while a survivor shares his personal story of being imprisoned at the camp.

After World War II ended, a lot of Holocaust survivors settled in Arizona. The Arizona Jewish Historical Society’s goal is to educate the community about the Holocaust and show the relevance it has to people in Arizona, Bell said.

“We have a large collection of historical objects and materials pertaining to the Jewish experience here in Arizona. And an increasing amount of material about the Holocaust as well, specifically survivors of the Holocaust who live in Arizona now,” Bell said.

The exhibit is part of a capital campaign to build a permanent Holocaust education center in Phoenix, Bell said. The exhibit has had about 4,000 visitors during it’s nine-month run and expects to stay open until Dec. 31, 2023.

In 2024, Bell plans to update the exhibit with new stories of survivors and artifacts.

Lawrence Bell, Executive Director, Arizona Jewish Historical Society

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