This exhibit is about the lives and experiences of several Jewish families who fled Germany in the 1930s, most of them finding refuge in the United States. That they were able to find refuge in America was largely due to the tireless efforts of one man in North Dakota, who in the middle of America's decade of depression decided that he could not stand idly by while his relatives in German were being persecuted because the government of Adolf Hitler had deemed them to be "Untermenschen" -- less than human.

In order to place the stories into the context of the times, a good deal of information has been provided about the background of anti-Semitism in Germany, the Nazi ideology, and the course of the Nazi persecution of the Jews of Germany and Europe, culminating in the Holocaust. Persons already familiar with these facts may wish to proceed directly to the individual stories. To do this, simply follow the links to "A Family in Germany" and "Herman Stern in North Dakota," both of which lead to the family stories. Some additional information on these families is contained in "The Holocaust's Toll" section.

The Crimes of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis were so immense, so extensive, that a complete accounting of them will never be possible. In the span of twelve years, the Nazis were responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of its own German citizens. Then there were the untold millions of Europeans who died not from warfare, but instead were executed, tortured to death, killed in medical experiments, starved (at least two million Russian prisoners of war died in this manner), murdered as racially or genetically "inferior," or otherwise done away with to satisfy Hitler's intentions to have his proclaimed "master race" dominate the whole of Europe.

The most infamous of these crimes was the Holocaust, not just because of the scale of the killing -- some six million men, women and children, amounting to two-thirds of the Jewish population of the whole of Europe -- but also because of the calculated, systematic, cold-blooded manner with which the Nazis planned and carried out the murders. Just as remarkable was the fact that the Jews of Europe never posed any danger to Hitler or the German nation. Indeed, the Jews of Germany were generally extremely loyal to the nation of their birth and culturally were more often "German" than "Jewish." The Nazis set out to exterminate them nonetheless and almost succeeded in doing so.

The scale of the Holocaust was immense, so much so that numerous studies which have summarized what happened often leave the reader with a rather abstract impression of what actually happened. Only by seeing the Holocaust at the personal level can the full horror of it be palpably felt. As the stories of the families recounted here should show, the suffering of those who fell victim to the Nazis was poignant, real. To the victims, crime is not a matter of "policy" or "ideology." It is personal.

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