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Kupferberg Holocaust Center Exhibition: The Jacket from Dachau: About the Exhibit

Curator's Statement

The Jacket from Dachau: One Survivor’s Search for Justice, Identity, and Home

In July of 2015, the Kupferberg Holocaust Center (KHC) was contacted by a vintage clothing dealer about a recent acquisition of a unique garment at an estate sale. In the back of a walk-in closet, amid a variety of old shirts and vintage dresses, hung a faded striped jacket. A year later, we now know the story of Benzion Peresecki, a young Jewish man from Lithuania who wore this jacket for ten months in Dachau and kept it for 33 years. The exhibit tells Peresecki’s story of his immigration to the US, his legal pursuit for reparations, as well as historic photos, maps, multiple testimonies, and short films. It is a story of Holocaust survival, chance encounters, and how a single artifact can weave a narrative of justice, identity, and a search for home.

This exhibit was compiled from over 1500 documents, films, and photographs left by Ben Peres and his family that contextualize his search for justice, identity, and home after he was torn away from his Lithuanian home. The curatorial team for the exhibit included Queensborough’s own students and KHC interns: Peter Bandziukas, Kaitlyn Cicciariello, Gillian Farnan, Abigail Jalle, Alejandro Leal-Pulido, Daniel Nussdorf, and Nitya Ramanathan.

―Dr. Cary Lane, KHC Curator-in-Residence & QCC Associate Professor of English
―Dr. Dan Leshem, Director of the KHC (2015-2018)

We would like to acknowledge and thank the following people and benefactors who contributed to this exhibit:

Marisa Hollywood, Associate Director of the KHC, Yad Vashem, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Dr. Geoffrey Megargee, Dr. Saulius Sužiedėlis, Jillian Eisman, Sam Widawsky, the USC Shoah Foundation, Kat Griefen, Lorrie Peres, and Michael Peres for testimonies, historical information, fact-checking, documents, images, and films that helped contextualize the artifacts in this exhibit. We also wish to thank Henry Schein, Inc. and Henry Schein Cares for their invaluable mentorship and support.

Curator's Talk: The Making of "The Jacket From Dachau"

Dr. Cary Lane, KHC Curator-in-Residence and Associate Professor of English at Queensborough Community College, discusses the process of research and discovery that led to the development of this exhibition.

Exhibit Catalog

Click here to view the exhibition's catalogue.

The Jacket From Dachau: Exhibit Preview

Dr. Cary Lane, KHC Curator-in-Residence and Associate Professor of English at Queensborough Community College, tells the story of Ben Peres and his journey through the Holocaust to a new life in New York.

Related Programming & Library Guide

KHC-NEH 2016-17 Colloquium: Fleeing Genocide: Displacement, Exile and the Refugee

This colloquium puts the past in conversation with the present by exploring the history of genocide and refugees. The programs explore the genocides that create refugee populations, and examine the challenges facing refugee populations as they seek to find asylum in countries and communities that are often resistant to accepting them. Click here to view the recorded events and click here for the related library guide.

Exhibit Artifacts

Click here to view the exhibit's artifacts.