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Stories Of Survival: Object. Image. Memory.


Stories of Survival is a landmark exhibit that showcases more than 60 personal artifacts brought to America by Survivors of the Holocaust and other genocides, never before on display. Exploring the relationship between objects, their meaning to the original owner and subsequent significance, each artifact is dramatically paired with oversized photographs by renowned documentarian Jim Lommasson with handwritten responses by Survivors or their family members.

The objects featured in Stories of Survival are as everyday as a baby doll and a black suitcase and as symbolic as a young mother’s cook-book and a wedding announcement. The objects were saved by Survivors from genocides around the world, including Armenia, Bosnia, Cambodia, Iraq, Rwanda, South Sudan, and Syria.

The objects in this exhibition have traveled the world, sometimes seeing great tragedy, having narrow escapes, and representing fragments of home, love, family, and identity. They are a reflection of their owners’ journeys and family histories. And though the objects and memories start from very different origins, from Germany to Belgium to Armenia to Syria, common threads bind them all together. These are the threads that bind us all; the common story of moving to a new land, building a new life, yet holding on to the past. We are all connected to these stories; we have them in our own families. They are the commonality of an immigrant experience, an American experience.

This landmark exhibition has been traveling across the United States since it premiered at Illinois Holocaust Museum in 2018.

See the exhibition at:

Barrington White House: October 25 – November 6, 2022

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum: Through January 22, 2023

Media Coverage:
Ursula Meyer’s Childhood teddy bear retrieved after surviving the Holocaust in Theresienstadt. Many family items had been saved by neighbors, including the bear, which Max and Ursula Meyer then retrieved after returning to Bremen, Germany in 1945.
White cardigan worn by Raissa Umutoni when she was murdered in the Rwandan Genocide on June 12, 1994 and was uncovered in a mass grave in January 2017. On loan, courtesy of Immaculee Mukantaganira.
Concentration camp, uniform jacket and pants worn by Stone, Henry (Henryk Steinlauf); Flossenburg/ Dachau, Germany, 1945. It has a pink triangle featuring the letter ‘P’; and his number ‘47849’.
Purple, velvet, Ottoman bath wrappers (Bohça) from Banderma, Ottoman Empire, late 19th century, brought to the United States by sisters Mariam Balian (née Kibarian) and Elizabeth Knekleian (née Kibarian) in 1921 after escaping the Armenian Genocide. On loan, courtesy of Greg Bedian.
Marklin train set which belonged to Ralph Rehbock dated 1938- Germany. The lot consists of train cars, tracks, and train set accessories.
Digital photograph of Diyar Al Khalo praying at the Lalish Temple, a sacred shrine of the Yazidis, in Iraq, February 11, 2013. On loan, courtesy of Diyar Al Khalo.

Previously on display at:

Navy Pier: April 7 – June 29, 2022

Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage: October 25, 2021 – February 27, 2022

Holocaust Museum Houston: January 28, 2021 – April 12, 2021

Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum: September 17, 2019 – January 5, 2020

Illinois Holocaust Museum’s presentation of Stories of Survival: Object. Image. Memory. at Navy Pier is made possible with generous support from:

Lead Sponsors

David C. & Sarajean Ruttenberg Arts Foundation

Joan & Bill Brodsky and Family


Linda & Richard Price Family Fund
Leonard and Diane Sherman Family Foundation
Norman & Virginia Bobins, The Robert Thomas Bobins Foundation
Anna & Mark Hertsberg
Larry & Donna Mayer

Community Partners

Armenian National Committee of Illinois; Association of Descendants of the Shoah-Illinois; Ayual Community Development Association; Bosnian-American Genocide Institute and Education Center; Cambodian Association of Illinois/National Cambodian Heritage Museum & Killing Fields Memorial; Center for Forgiveness and Peace; Chicago Association for the Lost Boys of Sudan; Chicago South Sudanese Community Center; Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events; Douglas A. Garofalo Fellowship, UIC; Flyback Productions; Global Survivors for Peace; Middle Eastern Immigrant and Refugee Alliance (MIRA Chicago); Sudanese Community Association of Illinois; Sheérit HaPleitah of Metropolitan Chicago


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