The Hall of Remembrance in the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum is shown in this 2009 photo. "Americans and the Holocaust," a touring exhibit on the U.S.'s attitudes and response to the Holocaust, will be on display at the Bangor Public Library starting Dec. 1. The exhibit is a collaboration between the Holocaust Memorial Museum and the American Library Association. Credit: Alex Brandon / AP

A major touring exhibit on the U.S.’s attitudes and eventual response to the Holocaust will open at the Bangor Public Library next week, two years after it was first announced.

“Americans and the Holocaust” will be on display at the library from Dec. 1 through Jan. 14, 2022. The exhibit, a collaboration between the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., and the American Library Association, will appear in 50 different libraries across the country. The Bangor Public Library is the only library in New England to host the exhibit.

The exhibit takes a look at the many factors that played into the country’s response to Nazism and the Holocaust in the 1930s and 1940s, including the Great Depression, isolationism, xenophobia, racism and antisemitism. All those factors influenced decisions made by the government, the media and other organizations in response to Nazism and the growing threat in Europe. The exhibit also seeks to challenge the commonly held assumption that Americans generally did not know that Nazis were persecuting and murdering Jews during that time.

“This exhibit will enable the people of our region to consider the ethics of action, and inaction, and the uses to which we can put our outrage,” said Ben Treat, executive director of the library. “We are honored to have been selected from a pool of more than 250 applicants to host this exhibition.”

The exhibit is reserved for field trips from area schools from 8:30 to 10 a.m. on weekdays, but the rest of the time it is free and open to the public during library hours.

There are three public lectures set for December and January.

The first, by Ellsworth High School social studies teacher and Holocaust scholar Heidi Omlor, is set for 6 p.m. Dec. 9, and details how Maine newspapers reported on the persecution of European Jews and on the Jews that were resettled in Maine.

The second, set for 6 p.m. Dec. 15, will feature University of Maine history professor Anne Kelly Knowles giving a talk on how to visualize the Holocaust using digital mapping.

The third, set for 5:30 p.m. Jan. 10, 2022, will feature Erica Nadelhaft, education coordinator at the Maine Holocaust and Human Rights Center, giving a talk on how hard it was for European Jews to immigrate to the United States during the Holocaust.

For more information, visit the Bangor Public Library website.

Emily Burnham

Emily Burnham is a Maine native and proud Bangorian, covering business, the arts, restaurants and the culture and history of the Bangor region.