(JTA) — Thousands of people marked the opening of a Holocaust museum in Skokie, Ill.
Former U.S. president Bill Clinton said Sunday at the ceremony that it was important to have a museum in the country’s Midwest. “We don’t want the only people remembering and learning to be in Washington, New York and Los Angeles," he said, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
The $45 million Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center features 2,000 recorded survivor testimonies, mostly from Chicago-area survivors, displays a Nazi rail car used to transport Jews to concentration camps and includes an exhibit for children and a reflection room.
Skokie, a city with a high proportion of Holocaust survivors, famously foiled an attempt by neo-Nazis to march through in the late 1970s. In the wake of the foiled Skokie march, Chicago-area survivors founded the Holocaust Memorial Foundation of Illinois, dedicated to combating hate with education. The museum is an outgrowth of the foundation, officials told reporters.
Several area survivors will work as museum docents and tell their own stories, The New York Times reported. Many of the museum exhibits include photos, documents, clothing and other artifacts from Chicago-area survivors.
Neo-Nazis held a counter-rally Sunday about two miles from the museum site.