Holocaust Memorial Exhibit Studies Fashion

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On Thursday, June 22, The Holocaust Memorial Center Zekelman Family Campus will open their newest exhibit called “Stitching History From The Holocaust.” The exhibit, which will be on display through December 29, gives viewers the opportunity to study the story of Paul and Hedvika Strnad. The Prague couple had tried to escape to the United States during the horror in Nazi Germany, where Hedvika could use her talented dressmaker skills in the U.S.

To prove they would be financially independent when they reached the U.S., Paul carefully sent a letter, along with some sketches of Hedvika’s work, to his cousin Alvin in Milwaukee in 1939. Sadly, before they could get a response, the couple perished in the Holocaust. However, in 1997, Alvin’s son Burton and his family found the letter along with the sketches whilst cleaning out his mother’s basement. Intrigued by his discovery, Burton donated the papers to the Milwaukee Jewish Historical Society, now known as the Jewish Museum Milwaukee. Upon opening, the museum decided to display the letters, along with the sketches. In 2014, a visitor suggested to create and premiere an exhibit. Eager to explore this option, the museum agreed and eventually opened an exhibit that explored fashion, immigration, and the Holocaust through the eyes of the family.

One of the features of the exhibit are the eight recreations of Hedvika’s designs, which were assembled by the Costume Shop of the Milwaukee Repertory Theater. This exhibit has given the public an “example of what happens when human suffering is ignored,” Rabbi Eli Mayerfeld, CEO of the Holocaust Memorial Center said. “It also is an abject example of the immense loss of the Holocaust. If Paul and Hedvika had been able to escape the Nazis, who knows what kind of fashion empire she could have created, providing jobs and countless articles of beautiful clothing. Theirs is just one of many stories of what could have been, the contributors to society taken away.” The Holocaust Memorial Center will host special docent-lent tours of the display at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, July 23, and August 13 and 7:00 p.m. Monday, August 28. The exhibit not only focuses on the exquisiteness of fashion throughout the years but honors all of the beautiful lives lost during the horrific years of the Holocaust. The mix of the evolving of fashion with a historical educational tribute is sure to spark amazement, interest, and emotion within museum goers who visit the exhibit.

A coffee depended life-form who enjoys thriller novels, creative writing, and wearing heels to feel taller. Shy to acquaintances, presumably obnoxious to friends. Watched the Harry Potter saga more times than I should admit, but then I remember: who cares? Thoroughly enjoy getting dressed up, but love my fuzzy sweatpants. I like to think my life is interesting.

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