Cheryl Guyer, interim director of Detroit's Holocaust Memorial Center, and the museum's outside publicist Glenn Oswald, have both maintained silence about the beloved museum's future, this despite global attention focussed on the institution's plan for a so-called "new direction."
Guyer also functions as fundraiser for the museum. Oswald also serves in the Marx Layne public relations firm.
Despite eight phone and email requests for comment over a period of days, neither Oswald or Guyer have responded. The unusual silence comes in the wake of an article about the museum and its unclear future that was syndicated to numerous newspapers here and abroad, including the Huffington Post
, Jerusalem Post
, History Network News
, Spero News
, The Cutting Edge News
, the Algemeine
r and other leading Jewish and non-Jewish publications.
By way of background, The Holocaust Memorial Center in suburban Detroit is deemed by many to be among the best of America's many local and regional Holocaust memorials and museums. Correctly billed as America’s “first Holocaust museum,” the Detroit enterprise was conceived fourteen years before the dominant United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. was even commissioned by President Jimmy Carter in 1978. The Detroit museum opened its original doors at its first location in suburban West Bloomfield, Michigan in 1984. Subsequently, in 1993, the Washington D.C. museum opened its doors. From its inception to his death, the extraordinary memorial project was the dream of Rabbi Charles H. Rosenzveig, a Polish Holocaust survivor who died in 2008.
The issue of the Museum's future came to the fore when it was learned that Detroit’s Holocaust Memorial Center is contemplating unspecified "changes" and is "in transition." The institution is now being directed by Guyer, who holds the unusual title of both “interim director” and “director of development.” This means her two hats cover both the soul of the museum and fund-raising — two spheres that aren’t always in sync. Ironically, Rabbi Rosenzveig went against conventional economic wisdom to create the Museum.
When contacted by this writer, Guyer confirmed that the museum and its board are now undergoing a period of what she called “new strategic thinking and transition.” Guyer refused to elaborate. When asked again, she steadfastly refused to comment, saying, “We are not ready to talk about it.” In the ensuing days, Guyer declined to respond to more than eight email and voice requests for further information for this story. Since worldwide attention has focussed on the museum's new direction, Guyer has continued her silence.
The Museum’s official media spokesman, Glenn Oswald, one of the most affable and responsive publicists in the field, has also declined all comment and failed to respond to several voice mails and emails attempting to gather ordinary background information about the Museum.
With its special place in American Holocaust commemoration and documentation, members of the Holocaust community have expressed hope that the Detroit center be preserved as it was intended to be and as it has been from its first day — a torch of Holocaust enlightenment that flickers the reminder, “Never Again.”
Too many Holocaust memorials have lost their original identity and transitioned to an institution which is devoted to both Holocaust and genocide, or simply to global genocide.
Sources says the museum may make its new direction apparent only next year.
Edwin Black is the New York Times bestselling investigative author of IBM and the Holocaust, The Transfer Agreement, Financing the Flames, and the Funding Hate series.