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Traveling Holocaust exhibit on display
Written by Lindsay Downey

See photos: http://www.news-press.com/article/20120328/NEWS0119/303280018/1005/NEWS0103/-Courage-Remember-Naples?odyssey=nav%7Chead

Sam Geist of Toronto, Canada, looks at the “Courage to Remember” Holocaust exhibit Tuesday at the opening of the traveling display at North Collier Regional Park in Naples.
Sam Geist of Toronto, Canada, looks at the “Courage to Remember” Holocaust exhibit Tuesday at the opening of the traveling display at North Collier Regional Park in Naples. / Terry Allen Williams/news-press.com
Bella Gutshtein gets a kiss from Holocaust survivor Abe Price at the opening of the exhibit. The 42-panel display features photos from the Holocaust.
Bella Gutshtein gets a kiss from Holocaust survivor Abe Price at the opening of the exhibit. The 42-panel display features photos from the Holocaust. / Terry Allen Williams/news-press.com

Abe Price’s left forearm is emblazoned with a number from Auschwitz, a fading ink reminder of the Holocaust death march he escaped in 1945.

“I lost 200 family members … all of my teachers were murdered,” said Price, 89, of Naples. “It is hard to describe but it was hell on earth.”

On Tuesday, Price viewed more than 200 photos of gaunt survivors and some of the approximately six million Jews who were killed during the Holocaust as a world-traveling exhibit made its Southwest Florida debut.

Naples Mayor John Sorey and city officials thanked the Foundation for California and the Holocaust Museum and Education Center of Southwest Florida for bringing “The Courage to Remember” exhibit to North Collier Regional Park, where it will be on display through next week.

The 42-panel display is from the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles. It has traveled across California and to about 15 countries, including China, Austria and India.

Its Naples exhibition is the second in Florida, following a stop at Tallahassee Community College in January.

Exhibitors plan to traverse the U.S. east coast on the heels of a terrorist’s murder this month of a rabbi and three Jewish schoolchildren in Toulouse, France. The killings are proof that the exhibit’s anti-genocide message is more crucial than ever, said Alfred Balitzer, chairman of the Foundation for California.

“Holocaust education is more vital today than I think it’s been at almost any time since the end of the Second World War,” Balitzer said. “A lot of us thought we had seen the worst mankind could do — that this will never happen again. But Cambodia (genocide) happened. Rwanda (genocide) happened.”

Anti-Semitism seems to be on the rise, Balitzer said, adding that swastikas and slurs were painted last week across an elementary school near his home in Orange County, Calif.

Naples resident Ida Margolis, 63, the daughter of Holocaust survivors who lost nearly all of their family members at the hands of the Nazis, said she’s witnessed anti-Semitism throughout her life. She’s heard jokes about Jews, read hate comments posted on online message boards and has seen Jewish headstones defaced in cemeteries.

The American National Socialist Party, based in Chillicothe, Ohio, regularly distributes anti-Semitic literature throughout Southwest Florida. It left about 250 fliers at homes near West Terry Street in Bonita Springs last March.

But it’s not just prejudice against Jews, Margolis said, adding that bullying and hate crimes against all groups appear to be at all-time highs.

Exhibits such as “The Courage to Remember” can help spread tolerance and preserve stories as Holocaust survivors age, said Margolis, who runs a children of Holocaust survivors group at the Southwest Florida Holocaust Museum.

“Unfortunately, the world is filled with apathy and hate,” she said. “We can’t allow Holocaust deniers to murder victims a second time by murdering their memory.”

If you go

What: “The Courage to Remember” Holocaust exhibit
When: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, through April 6
Where: North Collier Regional Park Exhibit Hall, 15000 Livingston Road, Naples
Cost: Free
Info: couragetoremember.com