It was a day of remembrance for community members, as the new location that will keep the history of the Holocaust in Southwest Florida was officially exhibited.
The Holocaust Museum & Cohen Education Center in North Naples held a ceremony for its new location at 975 Imperial Golf Course Blvd., Suite 108 in North Naples Sunday.
Hundreds of community members gathered at the brand-new museum, and among them were survivors of the Holocaust.
The survivors and all who attended were able to reflect on the museum’s importance and the message they all hope it spreads.
“Somebody may be different either in color or size or religion,” Holocaust survivor Renee Beddouk said. “But that’s not something that should be important. The person itself is.”
At the new museum, prisoner coats, Nazi documents and yellow badges the Jewish people in Europe were forced wear as identification are all in display for people to witness. These types of relics were callbacks to a life survivors such as Beedouk remember personally.
“This gentleman came back; my father didn’t,” Beddouk said. “And he said, the minute they arrived in Auschwitz, he never saw my mother again.”
Beddouk was among the guests of honor at the museum ceremony. She thinks about how her family was murdered and what their dreams might mean and might teach people in Southwest Florida.
More survivors shared their stories and their experience living through the Holocaust. Survivor Pieter Kohnstam says he knew Anne Frank, one of the most well-known victims of the Holocaust. He says they were neighbors and she even served as his babysitter for a time during his childhood.
“We became good friends, and hit it off with my mother, and vice a versa, and became my playmate babysitter,” Kohnstam said. “Take me to school, pick me up from school, playing across the street at the park.”
Swastikas, hidden Jewish texts and more historical items of the time period are on display and all familiar to the survivors. But they said they are not familiar enough with youth of today’s generation.
“Most of them know very little the reason,” Beddouk said. “I have no idea why.”
Beddouk hopes the museum serves as a haven to change current times, when people may be losing out on knowledge of the past and of the Holocaust. She hopes it will help make Southwest Florida, the country and the world a better place.
“If you see somebody being insulted for their religion or anything, they have to stand up,” Beddouk said.
The Museum will be closed on Monday. But, come Tuesday, its doors will be open to any and all visitors.
“At least it will be left over for generations in the future,” Holocaust survivor Abraham Gordon said.