Extensive updates to the core Karkomi Holocaust Exhibition at the Illinois Holocaust Museum (Skokie, Ill.) serve to debunk the myth that Jewish citizens did not resist the Holocaust, with new exhibition galleries that showcase armed, physical resistance in occupied Europe during the Holocaust. The Museum partnered with Luci Creative (Chicago), a full-service museum planning and exhibit design firm, to develop the updates and Ravenswood Studio as the fabrication partner.

A semi-immersive environment throughout the exhibits helps visitors connect to the content. The ghetto uprising space, comprised of brick walls and archways, evokes an underground bunker occupied by resistance fighters. The Bielski partisan story is told in an immersive forest of architectural trees reaching above the “ceiling” of the gallery, a stark contrast to the enclosed nature of the bunker. “We wanted to create new spaces in the Museum that are as powerful and immersive as the well-known ‘Kristallnacht’ gallery and railcar,” said Susan Abrams, museum CEO.

Throughout the galleries, the focus centers on individuals’ stories, designed to humanize the Holocaust and create empathy for those murdered and for those who survived. As Kelley H. Szany, Vice President of Education and Exhibitions at Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center states, “Telling the story of Jewish armed resistance allows our visitors to see that, in the face of ‘The Final Solution,’ there was the fortitude and will to try and take control of their lives and deaths.”

The final gallery in the core exhibition centers around the voices and perspectives of Survivors and the actions they took resisting the attempted 1977 neo-Nazi march in Skokie. In this case, Survivors, with the support of their community, took a stand, yielding a different result than when the community chose to look away during the Holocaust.

These galleries were made possible with the generous support of Harvey L. Miller and Jack Miller, in loving memory of their parents, Ida and Ben Miller, and their brother Arnold Miller.