The folks in the reference sections are extremely helpful, kind and professional. All the staff seem very dedicated to their mission, and there’s a large contingent of volunteers. I hadn’t realized that the International Tracing Service is also housed in the USHMM and they also are being very helpful.
I took a lunch break and wandered the museum’s gift shop afterwards. The majority of items for sale are books. There was a Children’s shelf, ‘Essential Reading’, ‘New and Notable’, ‘Genocide’ – which includes Darfur, Cambodia and other countries I don’t remember. There’s lots of memoirs and first-person accounts. I’m reminded of something a Sobibor survivor said once. He’s often asked what the ‘typical’ Holocaust story was. He said simply ‘the typical story is you died. Every other story is therefore unique.’
I looked for a ‘Poland’ shelf. There were only 3 books on ‘Poland’ in the entire store. Two were by Richard C. Lukas, which I own. The third one was ‘Remembering Occupied Warsaw’ by Eric L. Tucker that I haven’t read. There’s lots of accounts by Polish Jews – but those accounts aren’t under ‘Poland.’ I met a lovely Polish woman, Erna Kamerman Perry, signing her new memoir Christian by Disguise, A Story of Survival. We chatted for a bit and I bought her book. She took one of my cards and promised to buy one of mine.
After spending a day and a half in the reference section I recognize the museum as an incredible resource for anyone needing information for any related subject. I just wish the museum’s definition of the Holocaust as ‘the systematic, bureaucratic, state-sponsored persecution and murder of approximately six million Jews by the Nazi regime and its collaborators’ was as inclusive of all victims and welcoming as the staff and resources truly are.