A Turkish-born businessman has left the largest private Holocaust collection of evidence, documents, artifacts and memorabilia to the University of Colorado’s Jewish Studies program in Boulder.
Harry Mazal and his family had emigrated from Turkey to Mexico before World War Two had even broken out. But after the war, Harry became obsessed with collecting and holding onto artifacts and memorabilia from the Holocaust as evidence that it had actually happened.
None of Harry’s family had experienced the Holocaust, but as a Jew he was frustrated and concerned that there were stories emerging that the Holocaust had been made up and did not actually happen. Harry wanted to collect as much evidence as possible and ensure that it would never be forgotten.
Harry made his first trip to Germany in the 1960s were he began to source and collect the Nazi evidence and Jewish artifacts.
Harry visited the sites of the concentration camps, taking pictures as well as sourcing and buying evidence online. Harry struck up a relationship with the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. and held copies of trial transcripts for them.
His collection included sketches from inside the concentration camps during the war, aerial images taken by the US Air Force, newspaper clippings from the 1930s and 1940s, and lots of books which were claiming that the Holocaust didn’t happen.
Harry went on to write many scholarly articles and reports on the Holocaust and even lectured students on the attempted genocide of the Jews. His old colleagues say that he was determined to show the world that the Holocaust had occurred and his entire mission was to prevent denial of the Holocaust, the Forward.com reports.
By the 1990s, Harry was living with his family in San Antonio, Texas, but no longer had room for his growing collection. So he built 3000 square feet of new space to hold his artifacts. It has since become one of the largest single collections in the world.
Since Harry’s death in 2011, his family had been seeking a new home for Harry’s important collection without letting it be broken up. So now some of the collection was donated to the Texas A&M University-San Antonio, while the majority has made the trip to Boulder, Colorado to the state’s University Jewish Studies department.
There are thought to be around 500,000 items and 20,000 books. David Shneer, director of the Jewish Studies program is overseeing the University’s cataloging and organization of the collection, which is also being made available online.