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Holocaust Resource Center of Buffalo Records

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MS-0205

Scope and Contents

The organizational materials of the Holocaust Resource Center of Buffalo contain a wealth of information about the way in which the Center has developed overtime. Organizational materials are subdivided into 5 subseries. The establishment of the Holocaust Resource Center of Buffalo and its links to previous organizational Holocaust commemorative programming is traced in subseries A and B. Subseries C provides printed records of activities through their newsletters aimed at various constituencies, as well as resource material produced by or in cooperation with the Holocaust Resource Center of Buffalo. The largest subseries, Subseries D, focuses on programming broadly centered on three main areas (1) annual commemorative events (subseries D1), (2) school programming (subseries D3, D4, D5 and D6) and (3) community wide programming (D1, and D6). Given the breadth of this series, it is a particular strength of this collection, although as the Holocaust Resource Center of Buffalo is a relatively young institution, and the records focus mainly on the 1980s and 1990s, these programming records should be regarded as a sampling of the HRCOB activities for a particular period of time. Materials in subseries E are valuable for the documentation of the activities of the HRCOB over time. Other related materials can be found in the papers of Morris Mesch, Harold Siegel, Rabbi Shay Mintz and Gloria Tetewsky, all of which were collected under the auspices of the Jewish Buffalo Archives Project.

A separate historical collection in series II also forms part of this larger collection and is divided into two distinct but complementary series. The first subseries includes notes and minutes relating to pre-WWII and war-time aid to refugees within the local Buffalo Jewish community. A second subseries (series II, Subseries B), traces a particular group founded here in Buffalo by refugees. The Haven-Buffalo Jewish Club 1933 was founded in Buffalo in 1933 by German speaking Jewish refugees mainly from Germany and Austria. Materials within this subseries date from the 1940s to the 1950s. This subseries is arranged chronologically within record groupings. Original order and file naming structure has been maintained. This series is particularly valuable for an understanding of self-help, social service, cultural activities and advocacy by former refugees during from the 1940s-1950s, within war-time, and post-war, for the benefit of DP’s as well as the activities of a formerly émigré community. Originally loaned by the Bureau of Jewish Education to the Holocaust Resource Center of Buffalo, the papers within series II trace refugee related aid and self-help activities from the late 1930s to the late 1950s.


  • 1938-2015
  • Majority of material found within (Bulk 1973-2009)


Language of Materials

Collection material in English, German, Hebrew.

Terms of Access and Use

The organizational papers of Holocaust Resource Center of Buffalo, 1938-2015 (Bulk 1973-2009) are open for research.


There are restrictions regarding access to or use of this collection. Please see archivist for assistance.


Copyright of papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns. Researchers must obtain the written permission of the holder(s) of copyright and the University Archives before publishing quotations from materials in the collection. Most papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures unless otherwise specified.

Historical Note

The Holocaust Resource Center of Buffalo (HRCOB) is a non-profit, non-sectarian community supported organization committed to heightening public awareness and knowledge of the Holocaust era (1933-1945) and to the establishment of a living memorial to six million Jews and five million other victims of Nazi persecution. It achieves these goals by promoting an understanding of the Holocaust within the general community by documenting survivor testimony and by educational outreach to adults and children. It maintains contact with the media on Holocaust related topics and acts as a liaison with local and national agencies for Holocaust related programming. In public presentations, programming and commemorative events, the Holocaust Resource Center also provides memorialization. Through the personal testimony of local Holocaust survivors and liberators arranged through the HRCOB Speakers’ Bureau, through in-school visits, public adult programming, and in recorded oral histories available on the Center’s website, as well as through the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, it provides a personal as well as a permanent link to direct eyewitness testimony. Survivors visit schools and other venues throughout the seven counties of Western New York from Lockport to Fredonia, and from Pioneer to Clarence, NY

The Holocaust Resource Center of Buffalo commemorative calendar includes an annual Kever Avot v'Imaot (visiting the graves of loved ones), Kristallnacht (“Night of Broken Glass”) Commemoration every November, and U.N. International Holocaust Remembrance Day event each January 27. It also holds an annual Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) community-wide commemoration as well as a Holocaust Commemorative Proclamation Event at the Erie Country Executive and Mayor of Buffalo's offices every alternating Spring.

The Holocaust Resource Center of Buffalo also provides in-service workshops for educators (teachers and librarians) from public and private schools, and supports trips to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. to enable teachers to connect their students to the lessons from the Holocaust applied to modern day genocides as well as to varying attitudes towards the Holocaust in the world today. Since 1990, the Holocaust Resource Center of Buffalo along with the Freeland and Joffe Foundations sponsors an annual Arts and Writing Contest for Western New York Middle School and High School students to reflect on a Holocaust-related topic through the medium of visual media or the written word, and the Mary Deane Freeland award is given to the school library of winning student entries.

The Holocaust Resource Center of Buffalo also serves as a major resource repository of the Holocaust resource materials including adult and children’s literature and scholarly reference books and articles covering various aspects of the Holocaust including Anne Frank, the aftermath of the Holocaust, Anti-Semitism, Nazism, Children in the Holocaust, Concentration camps, deportation from European communities, genocide, ghettos in Europe, Jewish Europe before the Holocaust, liberation of the camps, survivors, resisters, liberators, and witnesses, Pre-Nazi Europe, Refugees, Resettlement, Resistance against the Nazis and Righteous Gentiles and Rescuers, as well as literature relating to Holocaust Denial.

The Holocaust Resource Center of Buffalo holds multiple conferences throughout the year for medical and legal professionals, educators and interested community members. Services to survivors include Café Europa supported through the Claims Conference and in cooperation with the Jewish Community Center. The HRCOB also connects survivors with services through Jewish Family Service. It provides support to local Holocaust survivors in the form of holiday baskets and other support activities for survivors. Membership in the Holocaust Resource Center of Buffalo is open to all and aims at building a community of members in support of the mission of the Holocaust Resource Center of Buffalo which is to: Teach the Lessons, Remember the Events, Honor the Survivors and Victims of the Holocaust. Programming is wide ranging and includes engagement with new scholarship relating to the Holocaust usually in the form of lecturers, as well as film, music, theater and artistic programming. The Holocaust Resource Center of Buffalo also seeks to connect the lessons of the Holocaust to contemporary genocides, and partners with several organizations in pursuit of this, including the Anne Frank Project at Buffalo State College.

The Holocaust Resource Center of Buffalo officially opened at a dedication ceremony on Sunday, March 18, 1984 at the Jewish Community Center, Getzville, with a showing of “As If It Were Yesterday,” depicting the rescue of children from the Nazis during the Belgian Occupation and with the director of the film, Myriam Abramowicz in attendance. Although the dedication of the Holocaust Resource Center occurred in 1984, the organization itself was operating from 1983, with a non-sectarian group of founders led by Toby Ticktin Back and with the support of the Jewish Federation of Buffalo.

The creation of the HRCOB was the culmination of several years of planning as well as a range of other independent activities that eventually coalesced into an organization during the 1980s. Through the work of the Kedoshim Committee affiliated with the Jewish Federation, which organized annual Holocaust community wide commemoration, a Holocaust Memorial was commissioned and the artist Bernard (Tony) Rosenthal secured as sculptor, through the leadership work of Holocaust Survivor, Ruben Literman and community lay leader, Morris Mesch. The sculpture currently stands in front of the Benderson Jewish Community Center as a memorial to the six million Jews who perished during the Holocaust and was originally dedicated on April 17, 1977. The sculpture consists of five panels that turn on a center shaft like the pages in a book. The dedication panel bears the dates during which the Holocaust occurred, and the Hebrew and English words “Let us not forget.” Other panels show maps of the countries where death camps were located, and another includes a tattooed number. One panel includes a dedication to defenders of the Warsaw Ghetto, while another panel includes the text of the Partisans’ song. A quotation from Anne Frank’s diary is part of another panel. A prayer in memory of the dead appears on a further panel, and the tenth panel is devoted to the creation of the State of Israel. The original Committee Members for the Kedoshim memorial included Alex Bialys, David Blitzer, Saul Friedman, Nathan Lewkowitz, William Markowitz, Max Pohl, Nadzia Rosenbers, Julian Silbiger, and Abraham Traub. Morris Mesch (Chairman), Rubin Literman (Co-Chairman and Treasurer), Arnold B. Gardner (Chairman of Fund Raising Drive), Sydney Abzug, Samuel S. Alt, Eugene Bester, Saul Bogan, Harvey Breverman, William L. Grossman, John M. Laping, Lester I. Levin, Isadore Snitzer, Oscar Stromberg, Jacob Weinberger. The sculpture was rededicated on May 4, 1997.

Prior to the establishment of the Holocaust Memorial, local survivors including Gerda Klein and Dr. Sol Messinger among others, addressed students groups, in order to educate about them about the Holocaust. Toby Ticktin Back, who had been living in North Buffalo from the late 1950s through the 1970s, had heard many survivor testimonies from her neighbors and friends. By the late 1970s she began formalizing preservation of those survivors testimony through educational courses. With the Director of the Bureau of Jewish Education Dr. Shabatai, Toby Back wrote a curriculum that was taught for several hundred students of the High School of Jewish Studies. She also taught a course on the Holocaust at Nichols High School in 1978.

With the annual community commemorative events, the Holocaust Memorial, Holocaust survivor outreach, and concerns that the survivor testimonies were not being collected in a formalized way, as well as the general need for Holocaust education, in February 1980, Toby Back wrote to Leonard Rochwarger, then the President of the Jewish Federation of Buffalo seeking support for the establishment of a center. On July 16, 1980 the first meeting of the Holocaust Resource Center Study Committee was held. The committee members for the HRC study committee included Mark Goldman, Rabbi Dr. Martin L. Goldberg, Kathy and Richard Gordon, Professor George and Wilma Iggers, Gerda Klein, Ruben Literman, Ethel Melzer, Dr. Sol Messinger, Dr. Alan Podet, Anna Post, Jane Fischman, Reed Taylor, the Rev. Robert Grimm, Rabbi Leonard Buchen, William S. Allen, Clayton Adams, Marlene Glickman, among others. In early 1981, committee members began writing to Federal, New York State, and local Foundations for seed money to start a Holocaust Resource Center. Mr. Les Arries, President of Channel 4 and President of the local chapter of the National Conference of Christians and Jews, as well as an attendee on a Jewish Federation ecumenical mission to Israel, agreed to record survivor testimonies once a month at Channel 4 as part of their support of Buffalo Community activities. Over 90 interviews were recorded in this studio setting. The tapes, now DVDs, are the testimonies of Holocaust survivors, liberators, resisters, fighters, and righteous gentiles interviewed by Toby Tickin Back and Rich Newberg. A synopsis and an abstract was created by Dr. George Rudinger and Luba Literman for many of the tapes, and these summaries are held within the holdings of the HRCOB. A video copy of many of these oral testimonies was sent to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.

The Holocaust Resource Center maintains significant archival materials relating to individual survivors and speakers who have been part of the Center’s active outreach and educational activities, and these remain within the Holocaust Resource Center.

The daily work of the HRCOB is directed by a paid administrator. From 1983, this role has been fulfilled by Marilyn Reich [Toth] (1983-1985), Susan Brown (1985-1989), Maureen Klein (1989-1991), Lois Miller Weinstein (1992-1998), Sylvia Schwartz (1999-2012), Sandy Saada (2012-2015) and Mara Koven-Gelman (2015-current). Toby Ticktin Back served as a volunteer founder director in the first years, later becoming Director Emeritus. Offices of the HROCB have been maintained within the Jewish Center of Greater Buffalo and Maryvale School District offices, Cheektowaga, and more latterly, in offices in Williamsville, NY.


6.46 Linear Feet (1 carton, 12 manuscript boxes, 2 half manuscript boxes)


Papers documenting aspects of the work of the Holocaust Resource Center, and predecessor committees associated with the Jewish Federation. An additional series documents refugee aid, and the Haven-Buffalo Jewish Club 1933, a German-Jewish Refugee social club formed in 1933.


This collection is arranged in two series as follows:

Series I. Organizational Records Subseries A: Jewish Federation Community Holocaust Observance Records, 1973-1983

Subseries B: Holocaust Resource Center Administrative File, 1980-2009

Subseries C: Publications and Resources

Subseries D: Programming, 1981-2015

Subseries D1: Yom HaShoah Observance, Holocaust Remembrance, 1981-2014

Subseries D2: Programming, Survivor Testimony, 1989-2006

Subseries D3: Programming: Schools, Arts and Writing Competition, 1989-2010

Subseries D4: Programming: Schools Presentations, 1987-1997

Subseries D5: Programming: Schools, Visits by Survivors to Schools, 1993-2015

Subseries D6: Programming, General Events, 1971-2008

Subseries E: Memorabilia, 1975-1995

Series II. Refugee Aid and The Haven Club

Subseries A: Bureau of Jewish Education, Refugees Aid in Buffalo, 1938-1942

Subseries B: Bureau of Jewish Education, Haven-Buffalo Jewish Club 1933, 1944-1956

Acquisition Information

Sharon Jacobs and Pieter Weinrib in their roles as co-Presidents donated the Holocaust Resource Center of Buffalo document archives in 2015. Sylvia Weiss, while serving as Executive Director, gave a small amount of published materials relating to the work of the Holocaust Resource Center in 2010. During the 1980s, the Bureau of Jewish Education loaned the Holocaust Resource Center materials relating to a German refugee aid committee, as well a separate group of papers of a German-Jewish refugee social club, known as “The Haven,” during the 1990s. These cumulative papers were arranged in June 2016 and it was deposited at the University Archives, Special Collections by the Jewish Buffalo Archives Project in June 2016. Founder archives, media archives and Oral History related archives have been retained by the Holocaust Resource Center of Buffalo. The Jewish Buffalo Archives Project was founded in late 2007 under the auspices of the Bureau of Jewish Education of Greater Buffalo with a seed grant from the Foundation for Jewish Philanthropies. The Archives Project collects mainly 20th century documentation relating to the diverse histories, religious traditions and cultures of Jewish communities within the Greater Buffalo area of Western New York, encompassing the geographic areas of Erie and Niagara Counties and partners with the University Archives at the University at Buffalo to make these records accessible. The arrangement and description of the Holocaust Resource Center of Buffalo was made possible by funding obtained through the Foundation for Jewish Philanthropies.

Accruals and Additions

Ongoing accruals are expected to this collection.

Related Resources

Processing Information

Collection was processed by Chana Revell Kotzin in June 2016. The Finding Aid was finalized by Chana Revell Kotzin in June 2016.


Finding Aid for the Holocaust Resource Center of Buffalo Records
Finding aid prepared by Chana Revell Kotzin.
June 2016
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the University Archives Repository

420 Capen Hall
Buffalo New York 14260-1674 US
716-645-3714 (Fax)