The Holocaust Documentation and Education Center was created to preserve the authentic memory of the Holocaust by recording the testimonies of survivors, liberators, and rescuers, according to its mission statement.
And as that population ages, a push to collect their eyewitness accounts is needed all the more.
The City of Hollywood, however, just began its foreclosure process on the center's current home on Harrison Street, reports the Miami Herald.
The Holocaust Center bought the 2031 Harrison Street building from the city's Community Redevelopment Agency in 2004, agreeing to repay the $1.2 million loan plus interest over 15 years. The city holds that the center hasn't paid a cent yet.
As reported by the Hollywood Gazette, the city is up against a $38 million budget gap. And after cutting staff salaries, city officials say they are in no position to start forgiving debts.
In a letter to the editor in the Sun Sentinel, Steve Geller, who is defending the center pro bono, said the city hired a contractor to inspect the property, but his report was wrong. Geller says shortly after moving in the center, they had to replace the elevator, roof, facade, and windows.
He says the center hasn't been unable to make payments to the city, because they have spent $3 million in repairs to the building they call a "money pit." They say the building is violating so many codes that the museum has been unable to open to the public for the past seven years, further hampering the center's income.
Geller adds, "Recently, the city condemned the second floor of the Holocaust Center because of code violations that had been there for decades. The city is enforcing these violations on a building that the city sold us and confirmed in writing didn't have code violations!"
The center is praised for its extensive oral history library and memorabilia collection, which includes a concentration camp uniform, yellow stars, infant clothing made at Auschwitz, and a Holocaust rail car from Poland.
The Florida Jewish Journal reports that the center just hired a new director of educational outreach last month. When asked about the center's future, Rositta Kenigsberg, president and one of the center's founders, told the Journal, "We've been around for 32 years and we plan to be around to finish this museum, whether it is in the City of Hollywood or some other city."
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