The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum presented “Crying Hands: The Deaf Experience Under Nazi Oppression” on Dec. at Congregation Beth El in La Jolla.
The deaf community’s experience is an often overlooked chapter in Holocaust history. Deaf Jews suffered the same fate as hearing Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe: discrimination, persecution, deportation and mass murder. Nazi policy targeted deaf Germans, subjecting an unknown number of hereditarily deaf individuals to sterilization. Societal prejudice about the intelligence of persons with hearing disabilities led many individuals to be institutionalized.
In those facilities, a small number of deaf Germans were murdered within the framework of the Nazi “euthanasia” effort, a program of mass killing directed at persons with disabilities. The Museum’s Deaf Victims of Nazi Persecution and the Holocaust Initiative is committed to preserving and telling the stories of deaf survivors. The program is co-presented with All The People, the producers of an independently run traveling exhibition, In Der Nacht, which captured deaf survivors’ accounts in the late 1980s. A living memorial to the Holocaust, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum inspires citizens and leaders worldwide to confront hatred, prevent genocide, and promote human dignity.
Participating in the discussion was Suzy Snyder, Curator, National Institute for Holocaust Documentation, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and James Gilmore, Archives Specialist, National Institute for Holocaust Documentation, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, along with an American Sign Language Interpreter on stage. Not shown is Michelle Baron and Marla Petal, Executive Producers, All the People. Opening remarks were provided by Marla Eglash Abraham, Director, Western Regional Office, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. For more information, visit ushmm.org.