The World Must Know: The History of the Holocaust as Told in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Summary

Michael Berenbaum


In conjunction with the opening of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1993, the Museum's director, Michael Berenbaum, penned The World Must Know: The History of the Holocaust As Told in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

The book parallels the experience that a visitor to the museum would have; it narrates the story of the years before, during, and after the Holocaust, in chronological detail. The first topic addressed is the growth of anti-Semitism in early-twentieth-century Europe. Readers learn about book burnings, the dissemination of Nazi propaganda, and the Nuremberg Race Laws. Over time, these actions set the stage for Hitler to implement his grand plan: the eradication of European Jews. The images that accompany the text grow more and more unbelievable; they progress from boarded-up shops and segregated classrooms to Jews being deported, tortured, and murdered.

The next section of the book chronicles in great detail the systematic persecution, dehumanization, ghettoization, and extermination of the Jews and other victims of the Nazis. Readers learn about the atrocities at Babi Yar, the mobile killing squads (Einsatzgruppen), and the Wannsee Conference and resulting Final Solution. The World Must Know also highlights the extremely dangerous resistance and rescues that took place during the Holocaust, such as the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

The final section of the book tells the story of liberation and the changed world that the survivors encountered once they left the camps. Told through photographs and interviews, the shocking tale of what the Allied troops encountered upon arrival at Auschwitz, Dachau, and the other camps is disarming and irrefutable. The last pages of the book describe the Nuremberg Trials, the search for Eichmann, the establishment of Israel, and the survivors' difficulties with rejoining the world at large after their ordeal.

The World Must Know is replete with documents, survivor testimony, and photos from the Holocaust as well as photos that depict the museum's exhibits. The book closes with a thorough bibliography for readers who wish to pursue this topic. For anyone who wishes to commemorate their visit to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum or for those who cannot get there in person, this book is a must-have.