The Zev and Shifra Karkomi Permanent Exhibition tells the story of the Holocaust, from pre-war German life, to ghettos and concentration camps, to eventual liberation and resettlement throughout the world, with a special focus on post-war life in Skokie. More than 500 artifacts, documents, and photographs help illustrate the narrative of the Holocaust, while testimonies from local survivors add personal detail. A German rail car
of the type used in Nazi deportation programs sits in the center of the building. The exhibition concludes with a summary film in the Pritzker Theater that connects the lessons of the Holocaust with other genocides.
View our online Artifact Gallery to preview some of the objects that will help tell this story.
Visitors enter a gallery in the dark wing of the Museum where they are greeted by a film orienting them to the Holocaust's historical context and its relationship to other acts of genocide and hatred. Visitors will be prompted with questions to guide their museum experience. Photo: IHMEC Collection; courtesy of Rehbock family
Pre-War European Jewish Life
The dark wing shifts dramatically as patrons move spaces through increasing Nazi restrictions primarily targeting Jews, but also affecting Gypsies, Jehovah's Witnesses, the physically and mentally handicapped, trade unionists and homosexuals. Visitors experience how restriction and confiscation were transformed into mass violence with the choreographed anti-Jewish demonstrations of Kristallnacht. Photo: IHMEC Collection; courtesy of Ner Tamid Ezra Habonim Egalitarian Minyan
World War II
The descent into darkness continues with the eastward Nazi Blitzkrieg. Jewish ghettoization is demonstrated, along with explanations of world recognition and inaction, and the 1942 Wannsee conference at which Nazi goals expanded to include the orchestrated extermination of millions of European and Soviet Jews. Photo: IHMEC Collection; in memory of Karl Bessel
In the cleave of the building - between the dark and the light sections - will stand the anchor artifact, an early twentieth century German rail car. Of the type used by the Nazis to transport millions of Jews to concentration camps and ultimately, their deaths, the freight car symbolizes the horrific end for so many who were taken from their homes and mass murdered in camps and ghettos. Visitors will pass the car and may enter if they choose. Learn more about the rail car here
. Photo: IHMEC Collecion
In the lighter wing, visitors experience stories of liberation, displaced persons camps, immigration and rebirth in North America, Israel and elsewhere. Upon conclusion of their journey, guests enter the Hall of Reflection, where they may engage in personal contemplation. Photo: IHMEC Collection; courtesy of Adam and Pela Starkopf
Please note: The permanent exhibition is intended for visitors 12 years of age and older.