New display illuminates Australia’s connection to Holocaust

A dress owned by a Jewish survivor of five concentration camps is now on public display for the first time at the Australian War Memorial, along with a number of new items highlighting the Australian connection to the Holocaust.

The Holocaust: Survivors and Witnesses has been developed by the Memorial with the support of the Jewish Holocaust Centre and members of the local Jewish community. Since the exhibition’s launch in 2016, Memorial curators and historians have been seeking material relating to the Holocaust to add to the national collection.

Significant new material has entered the collection and been offered on loan to the Memorial. Among the new items on display are Henryka Shaw’s dress, a pocket knife and jewellery made from scrap metal in Dachau, a concentration camp uniform, and a sketchbook made by Australian official war artist Alan Moore, who was among the first allied troops to enter Bergen-Belsen concentration camp after its liberation.

Acting Director of the Australian War Memorial Major General (Ret’d) Brian Dawson said the material will put human faces to the Holocaust, shedding light on the experiences of survivors who immigrated to Australia and Australians present at the liberation of concentration camps across Europe.

“The impact of the Holocaust was not confined to Europe; it is also an Australian story. Between 20,000 and 35,000 survivors found a home in postwar Australia,” Major General Dawson said.

“One of these survivors, Henryka Shaw, has her story told here. Her dress was made by fellow camp inmates upon liberation in 1945, and was brought to Australia when she immigrated in 1953.

“It has been generously loaned from her family, along with photos and documents relating to Henryka’s experiences, and is displayed for the first time in this exhibition.”

Exhibition curator Michael Grant said the Memorial had reached out to the local Jewish community for help in expanding the Memorial’s collection of material related to the Holocaust.

“We have had a wonderful response from the local community, with survivors and their families keen to see their stories represented here at the Memorial,” Mr Grant said.

The Holocaust: Survivors and Witnesses is a permanent display at the Australian War Memorial, and is located within the Second World War Galleries.

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