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Holocaust Exhibit Seeking Student-Accessible Orange County Location

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Holocaust Exhibit Seeking Student-Accessible Orange County Location

PR Newswire

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif., July 27, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Since 1972 Orange County and Long Beach students have learned about the Holocaust through the eyes of Auschwitz survivor Mel Mermelstein and his unique collection of art and artifacts. This month his collection must be moved or forced into storage.  However, Mermelstein wants his legacy to continue to be available as a teaching tool, today and for generations to come, when there will be no more eyewitnesses to tell of the horrors.  Many large museums have expressed interest in individual artifacts from the collection, but it's important to Mermelstein for his life's work to remain intact.

"At this time in history, with the surge in Holocaust denial, we cannot be complacent or allow the spread of hate to go unchecked," Mermelstein cautions. 

With the help of Erin Gruwell, Founder of the Freedom Writer Foundation, Mermelstein's daughter, Edie Mermelstein, is working to raise funds to establish an Orange County Holocaust Museum accessible to the 88 public and 34 private high schools in the Orange County and Long Beach area.  

Mel Mermelstein arrived in Auschwitz in the spring of 1944. His mother and two sisters were led immediately to the infamous Nazi gas chambers. His father and brother were also murdered by the Nazis, leaving Mermelstein as the sole survivor of his family. Mermelstein endured the death march from Auschwitz to Buchenwald, where he was liberated by the Allied troops on April 11, 1945. 

Click here to see the iconic photo taken days after the liberation of Buchenwald with 18-year-old Mermelstein pictured in the top bunk:

http://www.yadvashem.org/yv/en/exhibitions/museum_photos/buchenwald.asp

After immigrating to the United States, Mermelstein served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. He married, moved to Southern California in 1960 and began raising a family. In 1967, he began to bring home artifacts from the Nazi death camps, using the items to create artwork to help him deal with the pain and loss of his family.

For a short video tour through the collection click here: https://youtu.be/D3E5PujsP_g

In the early 1980s, Mermelstein successfully sued a Holocaust denial organization that had advertised a reward in the Jerusalem Post for anyone who could prove that Jews were killed in gas chambers. In a historic pretrial determination on October 9, 1981, Judge Thomas T. Johnson declared:

"This court does take judicial notice of the fact that Jews were gassed to death at Auschwitz Concentration Camp in Poland during the summer of 1944. It is not reasonably subject to dispute. And it is capable of immediate and accurate determination by resort to sources of reasonably indisputable accuracy. It is simply a fact."

In 1991, Leonard Nimoy played Mermelstein in the TNT movie "Never Forget" about Mermelstein's fight against the Institute for Historical Review.

For decades, Mermelstein has opened his vast collection of Holocaust artifacts and artistic expression - which includes concrete posts and elements from Auschwitz' electrified fences, uniforms, prisoners' personal items and Mermelstein's creations - to Orange County and Long Beach students and their teachers. He and his daughter are seeking help to identify a permanent location for his exhibit that can remain free for schools to supplement the teaching of the Holocaust and expose Holocaust denial.

To offer help or get further information, email Edie Mermelstein at f.e.mermelstein@gmail.com or call (714) 848-1101.

PRESS CONTACT:
Michael Mermelstein
714-206-9081

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SOURCE Edie Mermelstein

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