The American Philatelic Center, the home of the American Philatelic Society (APS) in Bellefonte, Pa., has launched an 11-million-stamp exhibit, “A Philatelic Memorial of the Holocaust.”
The massive display dates to 2009, when a fifth-grade teacher at a Massachusetts charter school began an enrichment activity with her students, who made artwork using stamps. The activity accompanied her students’ reading of U.S. author Lois Lowry’s 1989 book, Number the Stars, which details a Jewish family’s escape from Denmark during the Second World War.
By 2017, the entire school completed the “Holocaust Stamps Project” after collecting more than 11 million stamps, one for each of the victims of Nazi Germany and the Holocaust.
In 2019, the APS agreed to combine the stamps, artwork and lesson material with other Holocaust-related philatelic artifacts for an exhibit at its headquarters. While the pandemic put a pause on the exhibit’s rollout, it eventually opened this summer.
The exhibit’s first section, “Historical Perspective of the Holocaust,” includes a timeline wall showing significant events from 1933-45. It’s followed by “Tracing the Unspeakable,” a large map depicting various Nazi concentration camps and Jewish ghettos, and then “Stamps as Symbols of Remembrance,” which shows stamps and covers issued by countries after the Holocaust. The final section features the Massachusetts students’ artwork housed within a simulated prison to symbolically represent every Holocaust victim.