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Today at the museum

Speaking Memories – The Last Witnesses of the Holocaust

An Exhibition at the Swedish History Museum
January 25 – December 8 2019

“I tell my children and grandchildren to be aware. What happened then could happen again.”

(Zsuzsanna Reisch, survivor)


At the end of World War II, about 10,000 Jewish survivors came to Sweden. They brought with them memories of family members who were murdered, of communities that disappeared and of a lost world. They started a new life in Sweden. Photo: Erik Lernestål, National Historical Museums.

Speaking Memories – The Last Witnesses of the Holocaust is an exhibition dedicated to those who were there. Those who have personal memories and experience from the Holocaust. Those who survived.

Presenting portraits and testimonies, the exhibition focuses on survivors who rebuilt their lives in Sweden after the Holocaust. It also presents an interactive installation – Dimensions in Testimony – where audience members can have conversations with pre-recorded video images of Holocaust survivors, Pinchas Gutter and Eva Schloss.

The exhibition provides access to USC Shoah Foundation’s Visual History Archive, which contains 55,000 testimonies from survivors and witnesses of the Holocaust and other genocides. In addition, authentic objects borrowed from the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum will be on display. All of the above are presented for the first time in Sweden.

One part of the exhibition is dedicated to life in Sweden directly after the Holocaust, presenting personal stories and artifacts found in the camp Lovö, where survivors were placed upon their arrival to Sweden after World War II.

At Lovö island outside Stockholm, there was a camp 1944–1946, where refugees from Estonia and Romanian women from the concentration and war prison camp Bergen-Belsen were housed. In connection with archaeological investigations at Lovö, traces of the camp were discovered. In the photo a comb, skin cream, toothbrush, toothpaste and porcelain fragments. Photo: Erik Lernestål, National Historical Mueums.

Speaking Memories includes the publication of a book with portraits, testimonies and essays connected to the exhibition. It also includes workshops for high-school students and educators, as well as culture programs – seminars and film-screenings, which will be held throughout the exhibition period.

Speaking Memories is co-realized by The Swedish History Museum and Jewish Culture in Sweden in cooperation with USC Shoah Foundation – The Institute for Visual History and Education, and Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.

Visitors can talk with two survivors – Eva Schloss and Pinchas Gutter – in the interactive installation “Dimensions in Testimony”, from the USC Shoah Foundation. In the picture Eva Schloss. Photo: Erik Lernestål, National Historical Museums.

The exhibition was originated in the project Speaking Memories that was initiated by Jewish Culture in Sweden in 2015.
The other partners in the project are Paideia – The European Institute for Jewish studies in Sweden, The Association of Holocaust Survivors in Sweden, The Living History Forum and Adat Jeschurun Synagogue.

The portraits presented at the exhibition were taken by Karl Gabor.

The exhibition includes a suitcase from Auschwitz-Birkenau. The object is on loan from the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum. Photo: Erik Lernestål, National Historical Museums.