The Holocaust: sharing stories, engaging new audiences

imperial war museum picture




As part of her work as a historian of the Holocaust, Zoë Waxman has contributed to a range of institutions and exhibitions. She is a trustee of the Wiener Holocaust Library and a member of the Academic Advisory Board for the UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation, which is developing a learning centre for the nation’s memorial to the victims of the Holocaust.  She also served as a member of the Academic Advisory Board to the Holocaust exhibit at London’s Imperial War Museum, working closely with colleagues in other institutions and curators at the Museum to present a new way of understanding the Holocaust for new audiences.

What unites all this work is two things. First, a recognition that, with time, the memory of the Holocaust could recede into the past – especially as the generation that experienced it will soon no longer be able to tell their own stories. Secondly, an increasingly diverse society needs to understand how the Holocaust is relevant – and how it is linked to other events, whether colonialism or genocide in different places. Understanding how war, displacement, and assaults on minorities in the contemporary world relate to the Holocaust not only illustrates its enduring significance, but also helps a broad range of people to think about these subjects more creatively.

The Holocaust galleries at the Imperial War Museum were reimagined in this light. Waxman’s work was especially important in articulating the need to highlight issues of gender and sexuality. But the exhibition as a whole took a new approach to the subject: not least by stressing the diverse communities of those subjected to the Holocaust. It was the 2022 winner of the Museum + Heritage Permanent Exhibition of the Year.