Holocaust Museum starts 1st crowdfunding campaign to preserve survivors' diaries

PHOTO: The travel document of Joseph Stripounsky, who was 17 when he fled Belgium with his family, is shown at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, June 7, 2017.PlayManuel Balce Ceneta/AP
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The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has launched its first crowdfunding campaign in an effort to preserve and digitize more than 200 diaries from Holocaust survivors and victims.

The campaign, called "Save Their Stories: The Undiscovered Diaries of the Holocaust" on Kickstarter, began accepting donations Monday. Dana Weinstein, audience engagement/membership director at the museum, says they chose Monday as it was the birthday of Anne Frank, a famous Holocaust diarist.

"We chose June 12 as the launch date not only because it was her birthday, but because she is the one where most people have their first connection to this history in such a personal way," Weinstein said.

PHOTO: A page of Joseph Stripounskys diary with a sketch showing Master Teddy Bear, is shown at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, Wednesday, June 7, 2017.Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP
A page of Joseph Stripounsky's diary with a sketch showing "Master Teddy Bear," is shown at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, Wednesday, June 7, 2017.

Not only will this campaign provide financial assistance, it will also raise awareness about the importance of remembering the Holocaust and the lessons about the impact of human genocide.

The campaign will serve as a voice to the survivors of the Nazi era. Diaries are recordings of real-time experiences, which can serve as important evidence of the Holocaust.

Diary curator Kyra Schuster says wide varieties of diaries are collected, and then live in the David and Fela Shapell Family Collections, Conservation and Research Center.

"We have a variety of different formats -- bound notebooks, journals, letters written on scraps of paper from inside concentration camps, the back of photographs and student notebooks. The conservation staff was even able to piece together four pieces of paper that looked like a deck of cards," she said.

PHOTO: Curator Kyra Schuster, shows diaries laid on a table at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, June 7, 2017.Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP
Curator Kyra Schuster, shows diaries laid on a table at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, June 7, 2017.

The Associated Press reports that museum officials also note that the last group of Holocaust survivors are dying rapidly -- making it more urgent to catalogue and digitize as many diaries as possible.

"We are in a race against time as the survivor generation continues to pass away all too quickly. We want to keep collecting information from those who wrote their stories and tell them in a really robust way," said Weinstein in a phone interview with ABC News.

The fundraising campaign will last for 31 days, and the goal is to reach $250,000 dollars, which will help make the diaries available to the public. If it does not reach its goal, all the money will be returned to the donors.

PHOTO: A page of Joseph Stripounskys diary shows a pocket created on a page with extra pages inserted inside, at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, June 7, 2017.Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP
A page of Joseph Stripounsky's diary shows a pocket created on a page with extra pages inserted inside, at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, June 7, 2017.

"We hope this will continue to spark the dialogue and that people will learn from this history and remind us about the individual stories that are behind the staggering lives that are lost. These diaries will be their voices to be understood and learned from," Weinstein said.

The campaign and ongoing project can be found on social media using the hashtag #SaveTheirStories.

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