Little Known Holocaust Museum Keeps Doors Open In W. Mass.
A little known Holocaust museum in North Adams, Massachusetts will be able to keep its doors open for the next six months thanks to a donation.
Darrell English marvels at the artifacts hanging on the walls in the 750-foot square room he rents each month.
“An American flag around the corner here,” English said. “It’s a 48-star American flag. Nothing unusual about that. Except what’s stenciled on it. Which is a Nazi eagle.”
The flag is among an estimated 3,000 Holocaust-related items the 56-year old North Adams native has collected since he was a young boy. He started displaying them 18 months ago at the New England Holocaust Institute and Museum. One he always points out is a 1939 photo of Adolf Hitler taken by Adolf Eichmann, the main logistical organizer of the Holocaust, which English says captures the start of World War II and the Holocaust.
“During a meeting which Hitler was confirming to his big top nasties, Bormann, Himmler, Heydrich and a whole bunch of other guys in the picture, as he’s making the statement he moves his right to impact the statement, there’s a blurred hand,” English explained. “The shutter speed was off and it didn’t catch the speed of his hand movement. In the statement he’s making, he’s saying to his people, we are going to war with Poland on the first of September and that my death head units have been given charge to kill every Polish man, woman and child.”
Despite the one-of-a-kind artifacts, like Rasputin’s book from Hitler’s personal library, the museum’s popularity has lagged — until last month when English announced he was unable to make rent on the space. That’s when Jerry Klinger and the Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation came in. Klinger says it was opportunity to support a person telling the story of the Holocaust so nothing like it ever happens again.
“There’s never been anything like this in world,” Klinger said. “To have people have the ability of telling freely about good and bad and try and teach each other…you can’t find that kind of freedom in many places around the world.”
The $3,000 is enough for six months’ rent. Since then, English says calls have streamed in from all over the country offering ways to support the museum financially or even relocate.
“Now I’ve got the time to look at these things more clearly without the panic of closing at the end of the month,” English said. “This has given me that breathing room.”
English says he would love to keep his collection somewhere in New England, since his museum is the only one in the region’s six states. A Holocaust education center in Springfield, where he displayed some of his collection, closed three years ago. English says a few years ago two designers from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington reviewed the 10,000 World War II artifacts he has spread throughout the museum and his home. They came up with a 30,000-square foot, $60 million home for the collection, according to English.
“That would be the dream!” he exclaimed. “Oh my God, at that point I think I could die and be happy.”
Calling himself the Indiana Jones guy who finds the prized pieces, sometimes at a cost of up to $6,000 for a single item, English admits he’s not a museum designer or marketing whiz. The museum lacks a well-functioning website and Facebook page after email accounts were hacked. Instead, he’s interested in teaching folks how the German people were brought to the dark side in supporting the Nazis. English points to a book he has instructing housewives how to maintain a proper home as an example of Nazi brainwashing.
“Recipes on how to make strudel and schnitzel and how to can and preserve,” English explained. “In the middle, oh my God, it has the Nuremberg Laws, who’s a Jew and who isn’t a Jew. Five or six pages of the charts of who’s a Jew and who’s not a Jew. This is how it was spoon-fed to the public surreptitiously. I basically entitle this book ‘Betty Crocker meets Adolf Hitler.’”