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The Gilde-Marx Collection on Holocaust and Genocide Studies
Catawba Valley Community College, Hickory, NC
by Ari Sigal

The College
Catawba Valley Community College, chartered in 1958, serves two counties in the western Piedmont of North Carolina—Catawba and Alexander. The college currently has an enrollment of 5,000 students who attend credit courses. That number is divided almost equally between those in college-transfer programs and technical tracks.

The Library Space
The current library location dates from 2006, when it was moved to the second floor of the Dunbar Building, a five-floor building that houses several departments (science, math, and nursing), as well as a simulated hospital and staff support offices. The newer space more than doubles the square footage of the previous location, to provide over 25,000 sq. ft. of study area, including individual and group study rooms. The print collection is approximately 24,000 volumes.

A view of the Library, showing part of the circulating collection and the quiet study area.

The Gilde-Marx Collection
The Library received a generous donation of Holocaust material donated by the Chicurel family of Chapel Hill, NC in 2012. Most of that year was devoted to cataloging the material and the collection was ready for the college community and the public by April 2013. There are several goals for this material: to be a research collection available to anyone who wants to pursue Holocaust study, as well as become familiar with other genocides of the 20th century; to be a teaching tool to counter anti-Jewishness in particular, but also racial or ethnic prejudice; to preserve the letters, documents, and realia entrusted to the Library related to the Gilde and Marx families' flight from Nazi Germany and Occupied Europe.

In the years following, the Chicurels have continued to augment the collection. Currently, there are 725 print items, 165 dvds (movies and documentaries), and 75 music cds from composers who either died in the Holocaust or wrote post-war pieces having a Holocaust-inspired theme.

Browsing the collection on opening day,
April 5, 2013.

A view of the print materials of the Gilde-Marx Collection as it is today.

The Collection is multifaceted in its approach to the subject. The works in it range from accessible, popular titles to specialized, academic ones. However, the Collection emphasizes the writings of those who were witnesses to the atrocities perpetrated and, therefore, contains an excellent selection of published diaries and notebooks. In addition, attention is given to multimedia (i.e., film and musical) portrayals of events.

A most unique component of the Collection is its hundreds of letters, telegrams, and postcards sent between members of the Marx family in Germany, and their relatives and other potential sponsors in the U.S. The majority of the correspondence dates from 1936 to 1950, and documents the struggle many German Jews encountered when trying to leave Europe on the eve of World War II to begin anew in America.
Telegram in English that seeks information about a family member on the Gilde side,
December 1944.

Letter in German, August 1938over a year before the Marx family
received permission to leave Germany and sail for the U.S. from Italy.

Letter from an American relative to the Marx family, now in the U.S.
for over two years (December 1942).

Future Directions
My goal is to have the Collection used as a teaching tool that can be included in relevant courses at the College to teach the consequences of prejudice and societal isolation. I also hope middle and high school students from our area will continue to visit and see the reality of genocide.

Copyright 2018 by Ari Sigal.
About the author: Ari Sigal received his MLS in 1985 from the University of South Florida and has done reference and administrative work in public, academic, and special libraries. Since 2004, he has worked for Catawba Valley Community College, Hickory, NC as Library Director (to 2009) and then with his present title. He is also Curator of the Gilde-Marx Collection for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, one of the largest of its kind in North Carolina. Ari was an adjunct instructor in the MLS program at Appalachian State University between 2007 and 2013. In 2013, he edited "Advancing Library Education: Technological Innovation and Instructional Design" (IGI Global), a collection that focused on various digital platforms for training LIS students and providing professional development for librarians. He can be reached at asigal@cvcc.edu.