Since 1995 The National Holocaust Centre and Museum, originally known as Beth Shalom (The House of Peace), has been a place of education and a permanent memorial to the victims of the Holocaust. This week we’d like to take you on a photographic tour of what was once the Smith family home and is now the UK’s national museum dedicated to teaching and learning the lessons from the Holocaust.

Since its foundation the Centre has been more than a building; it is a space for memorial and reflection. In light of this the Centre is based within an acre of landscaped countryside and contains a number of memorial gardens and sculptures, including The Gateway of the Righteous. The Gateway is ‘in honour of the individuals and nations who demonstrated the power of goodness and saved innocent lives’ and provides a point for visitors to stop and reflect.

The Gateway of the Righteous

Image: The Gateway of the Righteous.

The Gateway of the Righteous is situated in our memorial gardens which have, over the years, been planted with just under 1,000 Margaret Merril roses. Their white colour symbolises purity and innocence and many of them are dedicated by Holocaust survivors and their families.

Rose garden

Image: Just under 1,000 Margaret Merrill roses are planted in the memorial gardens. 

Our memorial gardens are also home to a number of sculptures and memorials including the Anne Frank sculpture. Born in Frankfurt in 1929, Anne went into hiding with her family in Amsterdam from 1942 to 1944. During this time she kept a diary which we now know as ‘The Diary of a Young Girl’. Anne’s diary is an invaluable testament to the experiences of those in hiding and her story particularly resonates with our younger visitors.In addition to the memorial gardens there are also two permanent exhibitions within the Centre, including our main exhibition. The exhibition begins with an examination of pre-war Jewish life and continues by tracing the development of anti-Semitism and discrimination, the rise of Hitler, Kristallnacht and its aftermath, ghettos and The Final Solution.

Anne Frank sculptureImage: The Anne Frank memorial.

Towards the end of our main exhibition we present visitors with a quote from the philosopher and writer George Santayana; ‘He who does not learn from history is doomed to repeat it’. The quote is in keeping with the Centre’s philosophy as we work to promote personal responsibility and positive action.


Image: The main exhibition.

The main exhibition is not the only permanent exhibition in the Centre. Since 2008 The Journey has been the UK’s first exhibition designed solely for the teaching of the Holocaust to primary-aged children. The exhibition follows the story of Leo Stein, a 10 year old German Jewish boy living with his parents in Berlin in 1938. From room to room visitors can explore how the life of a Jewish family might have been impacted by the rise of Hitler and the history of the Kindertransport (Children’s Transport); from 1938 to 1940, between nine and ten thousand children came to Britain on the Kindertransport as refugees.


Image: The Journey exhibition.

Whilst both exhibitions tell the story of how lives are affected by the Holocaust, the personal experiences of Holocaust survivors enrich our understanding like no exhibition can. During term time and weekends in the summer we have the privilege to host a survivor speaker most days at the Centre. Through their testimonies visitors have the opportunity to hear how Nazi persecution was experienced on an individual level and ask questions about these experiences.

Man talking to a group of students

Image: Steve Mendelsson, survivor of The Holocaust, speaks to a group of students.

As these photographs begin to show, the Centre’s purpose is multifaceted; it is place of education and reflection, as well as memorial and remembrance. So whether you’ve never visited or visited countless times there is always something more to learn and understand.


Anne Frank Museum Amsterdam, ‘Anne Frank’, Anne Frank Museum Amsterdam [Online]. Available at: (Accessed 7th April, 2015).