Help Preserve a Powerful Survivor Story

Preserving history one memory at a time.


Photo of Joanie's Box

The box Joanie found after her father’s passing, the contents of which would change everything she knew about her family’s history.

Imagine that you discovered something that could change the world sitting inside your parent’s house.

It sounds like an impossible reality, but it is exactly the situation that Joanie Schirm was in when, shortly after her parents’ passing, she discovered a red lacquer box. What she would discover when she opened it would lead her on an emotional and unpredictable journey.

In that box were 400 letters that were collected by Joanie’s father which he secretly hid away hundreds of letters written just before and during the Holocaust by 78 of his closest friends and family. The correspondence reveals stories of the will to survive, the nobility of human dignity and the guilt of escape when leaving family and friends behind. In the end, Joanie’s father lost 44 relatives in the Holocaust, including his beloved parents. Read more about Joanie and her story here.

We are seeking to bring these incredible letters to life in a new permanent exhibit, but we need your help. Donate now to make this dream a reality.