Following the January 12, 2010, earthquake in Haiti, Bill and Harriet Mohr began a serious research project along with a blog, Haiti Holocaust Survivors, where they post valuable information on the Jewish community in that country. As described in a previous post— A look into Haiti’s tiny Jewish community— the two have gathered information, documents, and photographs from survivors and archives as they are try to put together a complete picture of the Jewish community that swelled with the arrival of the European refugees, but declined as Haiti’s fate turned in the postwar years. The Mohrs hope to mount exhibits and collaborate on further projects to preserve and commemorate Haiti’s Holocaust history, and have set up an e-mail address – HaitiHolocaust@aol.com – in the hopes of gaining as much information as possible regarding the Jewish community, particularly the refugee community, on the island.
In Haiti Holocaust Survivors, Bill Mohr has expressed his gratitude to Haiti for having provided shelter to his family and approximately 300 other Jews at a painful moment in Europe’s history. He says, “I was four years old when I escaped from Germany and went to live in Haiti for a year, until immigrating to New York. [. . .] I do not know what would have happened if Haiti had not opened its doors to those fleeing the Holocaust. My mother’s mother and sister had found safe haven in Portugal, while my mother’s younger sister was caught and spent the war in Auschwitz.”
Together with his wife, Harriet, Mohr seeks help in locating survivors of World War II that have a connection to Haiti for the opening of the new Center for Holocaust, Genocide and Memory Studies. Founded by James E. Young, the new center is scheduled to be opened in September at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. The Mohrs have been invited to present their body of work at an exhibition at the Center. They will be working with the support of Holocaust scholars, the museum staff, and Edgar and Harry Rosenberg—who were Bill Mohr’s neighbors in Port-au-Prince—to bring valuable information and “the gripping inspirational story of the Jews in Haiti, during the Shoah, to greater public awareness.”
In preparation for the Center for Holocaust, Genocide and Memory Studies’ opening and exhibition, the Mohrs are requesting information in four categories: 1) people who were children in Haiti; 2) children of survivors who lived and/or found safety in Haiti; 3) anyone that has an extended family connection or knows people who were in Haiti; and 4) survivors, who like Hans Erich Emden (Juan Carlos’ father) http://wp.me/pS6a0-O, held a Haitian passport but never lived there.
[For more information on Bill and Harriet Mohr and Haiti’s Jewish community, see http://repeatingislands.com/2010/03/23/a-look-into-haitis-tiny-jewish-community/
For more information on Haiti Holocaust Survivors (and photo of Bill and Ruth Mohr with other children in Haiti), see http://haitiholocaustsurvivors.wordpress.com/
For information on the The Center for Holocaust, Genocide and Memory Studies project, see http://haitiholocaustsurvivors.wordpress.com/from-our-e-mail-bag/how-the-center-for-holocaust-genocide-and-memory-studies-will-integrate-the-project/