Last week we were privileged to be able to welcome HRH Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, to the Centre. The visit marked the beginning of a series of celebrations to commemorate the Centre’s 20th anniversary and included a tour of The Journey Exhibition and unveiling of an anniversary plaque. But how did it all start and why is there a Holocaust Centre in the middle of Robin Hood county?

The establishment of what is now the National Holocaust Centre and Museum has its roots in the 1980s. Brothers James and Stephen Smith, along with their mother and father Marina and Eddie Smith, embarked on a family trip to Israel in 1981. It was a trip that ultimately changed their lives.

A few years later they returned to the country and visited Yad Vashem, Israel’s national memorial to the Holocaust. Inspired to action, the family decided to create an exhibition in the Christian conference centre Marina and Eddie had been running for a number of years. The exhibition was based on the understanding that the Holocaust is not a Jewish problem but a problem that has consequences for us all.

Over time the exhibition space developed into Beth Shalom, meaning ‘House of Peace’, and became a dedicated Holocaust memorial and place of education. Additionally it evolved into a place for personal reflection for the survivor community with survivors remaining at the heart of the Centre ever since. We continue to welcome Holocaust survivors to the Centre throughout the year where they share their testimony and answer questions from visitors.

From idea to realisation there have been many developments over the years. The Journey Exhibition opened in 2008 and is the only exhibition in Europe purpose-built for teaching the Holocaust to primary-aged children. In addition, 2014 saw the development of a dedicated space for temporary exhibitions and the Centre embarked on the Interactive Testimony Project. The project, which you can read more about here, was launched in order to preserve the testimonies of Holocaust survivors for generations to come.

From humble beginnings emerged what is now The National Holocaust Centre and Museum. We hope you can join us over the coming year in commemorating 20 years of work.