Harry Mazal spent 18 years collecting thousands of pieces of material to educate those who denied the Holocaust and to remember those who died.
That collection, the largest privately owned Holocaust archive, now resides at the University of Colorado.
Mazal's daughter, Aimee Mazal Skillin, donated the rare collection to Archives and Special Collections and the Program in Jewish Studies at CU, the university announced Tuesday.
"(The collection) was about proving that the Holocaust, in fact, occurred," said Skillin, 44. "It was about preserving the memory of the children who perished in the Holocaust, and it was about education."
Mazal, who lived in San Antonio for much of his adult life, died at age 74 in 2011. His daughter, who now lives in Lone Tree, said her father became passionate about the collection because of his own Jewish heritage and experiences.
"He didn't know he was Jewish until he was a little older," she said. "He was blackballed from a fraternity for being Jewish, and I think that racism and bigotry were a sticking point. He didn't like that. He taught us kids to be very accepting. In the early days of the Internet and the chat boards, he was himself learning about how much Holocaust denial there was in the world. All of those things were motivators for him."
The collection includes more than 20,000 books and 500,000 documents, pamphlets and photographs, including original transcripts of the Nuremberg trials and other war crimes trials. The materials will be housed within the Archive of Post-Holocaust American Judaism.
Bruce Montgomery, faculty director for CU's Archives and Special Collections, said already a team is working to organize the collection, which filled 367 boxes when it arrived.
Montgomery said he hopes to make a large portion of the material accessible to researchers by the end of the year.
Skillin said her father collected the items from everywhere and built a 3,000-square-foot addition to his home to house the collection. She said she didn't know how much the collection was worth today but guessed it would be more than $1 million.
Skillin said after talks with several private and public organizations, she decided to donate the collection to the Boulder campus because of its ability to preserve the material while sharing it with scholars and researchers.
Professor David Shneer, director of the Program for Jewish Studies, said the Mazal Holocaust collection complements CU's focus on post-Holocaust American Judaism.
Now, researchers who want to look at post-Holocaust American Jewish culture, religion and experience can start with the Mazal collection, he said.
"This is the anchor to be talking about something called post-Holocaust American Judaism," he said.
Contact Camera Staff Writer Sarah Kuta at 303-473-1106 or firstname.lastname@example.org.