The Collection

The Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Florida (HMRECF) presents this interactive online digital exhibit of the Lester Morris Collection. The collection, donated by Lester Morris, is comprised of magazine and newspaper articles published primarily in the United States immediately before, during, and shortly after the Holocaust (1933-1945). The articles are physically housed in the archives at the Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Florida museum in Maitland, Florida; however, the center presents this digital exhibit in an effort to provide increased access to the collection.

These articles are significant because they allow us to learn about the thoughts, attitudes, and beliefs of people of the past. This exhibit is an opportunity to view actual Holocaust and World War II communication artifacts aimed at an American audience untouched by the attitudes and perceptions of historians and people of the present. Articles and photos from LIFE, The New York Times Magazine, The National Geographic Magazine, Newsweek, Time, Harper's, and various other publications are represented in the collection. The center invites you to participate in a short tour and community dialogue about the lessons of the Holocaust through this digital exhibit.
Museum

Visit the HMRECF Museum located at
851 N. Maitland Avenue, Maitland, Florida

The National Geographic Magazine, February, 1917

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The narrative of the Holocaust that this collection illustrates begins early in the twentieth century just before the Holocaust. Significant changes were occurring in the world. These changes that ultimately allowed for and caused travel and immigration would contribute to tensions that led to the Holocaust.

The February, 1917, issue of The National Geographic Magazine illustrates the increasing diversity of the world. More efficient travel and unrest in certain regions of the world made immigration appealing, sometimes necessary, and possible.

The magazine depicts the cultural diversity of America by presenting photographs of immigrant families from cultures around the world. A Jewish family from the early 1900s is highlighted on page 124. This photograph represents a typical Jewish family in the early 20th century. Click for more...

The National Geographic Magazine, July, 1919

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The July, 1919, issue of The National Geographic Magazine historically and photographically details "the progressive world struggle of the Jews for civil equality" (1).

"For eighteen hundred years they have had no country, have been dispersed to the four corners of the globe, and yet have retained their religion, cohesion, their intellectual capacity, their loyalty to their race, and have, whenever there was any pretense of equality of opportunity for them, forged their way ahead into positions of prominence, influence, and power in business, professions, in philosophy, in art, in literature, and in government. They at the same time made loyal subjects or citizens of the countries in which they have lived whenever they have been accorded any reasonable protection of civil rights" (1). Click for more...

LIFE, March 28, 1938

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The March 28, 1938, issue of LIFE shared information and photos of Jews who were victims of the Holocaust. Jews were exiled, beaten, humiliated, killed, and sent to jail just because of their heritage. Propaganda urged people to believe "Jews ruined the Germans" (23) and depicted Jews as inferior.

LIFE also described former President Herbert Hoover's visit to Europe. Hoover calmly commented regarding his visit, "I do not believe widespread war is at all probable in the near future" (19). America would eventually become involved in the war, but it is interesting that Hoover reported that war was unlikely after his visit to Europe. The Neutrality Acts likely influenced his comment.

LIFE offers glimpses and a perspective of Hitler's regime as wrong. However, the American public remain distant viewers. The U.S. would not become involved in the war until 1941 following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Click for more...

LIFE, April 18, 1938

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Photos on page 16 and 17 of the April 18, 1938, issue of LIFE compare dictators such as Hitler, Stalin, and Mussolini to democratic President Roosevelt. "The qualifications which make a successful dictator are simply those which make a successful mass leader. The essential difference between a dictatorship and a democracy is not in the leader, but in those led" (17). LIFE is calling for readers to consider their personal role in a democracy.

Beginning on page 46 of the April 18, 1938, issue, LIFE resists the Nazi rhetoric portraying the Jews as "unwanted minorities - millions of people for whom a haven should be found...The Jews are the world's eternal wanderers and who once again must take up their unresting march from countries which once welcomed them and no longer will tolerate them" (47). Jews have historically lived among other cultures as immigrants fleeing intolerance.Click for more...

Newsweek, October 6, 1941

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The October 6, 1941, issue of Newsweek gives us a glimpse of the tensions mounting just prior to the United States decision to enter World War II. Up until the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the U.S. maintained adherence to the Neutrality Act. Though the bombing of Pearl Harbor was a major catalyst, articles in this issue indicate public and journalistic criticism was rising.

"Last week, Sullivan [Mark Sullivan, New York Herald Tribune Syndicate columnist] plugging for repeal of the Neutrality Act, wrote that it 'ought never have been enacted. It is now seen to have been futile...Here was the most powerful nation in the world...so hysterically eager to avoid involvement that it sought immunity by putting hand-cuffs upon itself' " (13). "And Mr. Roosevelt, writing in Colliers weekly, flatly charged that the legislator's failure to amend the act in July 1939 encouraged Hitler to move in Poland" (13). Click for more...

TIME, October 11, 1943

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At the time of publication of the October 11, 1943, issue of Time, the United States was now deeply involved in World War II. "Many a homebound U.S. citizen had pondered the Senatorial mission, wondering dubiously if it was worth all the expense and trouble. Last week came the answer: yes it was" (13).

Articles in TIME display public support of America's involvement in the war, yet they also acknowledged the rhetoric of false optimism and accomplishment. "Our boys know that we are not perfect. They know that our Allies are not perfect either...The dangerous results of sugary and overdrawn propaganda should be apparent to all of us...Our fighting men are mad because of the false optimism of our news" (14).

"World War II is a long way from being won" (14). Maine Senator, Brewster, said, "Our soldiers know how tough this war is. We ought to know how tough it is too" (14). Click for more...

TIME, May 7, 1945

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At the time of publication of the May 7, 1945, issue of TIME, Americans were eager to hear the end of World War II was drawing near. "Fate knocked at the door last week for Europe's two fascist dictators. Mussolini, shot in the back and through the head by his partisan executioners, lay dead in Milan. Adolf Hitler had been buried dead or alive, in the rubble of his collapsing Third Reich" (29).

American media began to reflect on the history of the Holocaust, hoping to understand what had happened and how it happened, yet victory meetings and celebrations were premature. April 28, 1945, "a day of false hopes," was full of rumors of Germany's surrender (19). Americans stood by radios waiting for confirmation. At this point, Germany's surrender was imminent, but Americans would wait a few more days for official news of the end of the war in Europe and a few months longer for the war to officially end in the Pacific. Click for more...