Exhibition Opening Aug. 8 at UNC Asheville Tells the Story of Holocaust-Era Gross-Breesen Farm for Jewish Youth


UNC Asheville will feature a multimedia exhibition, opening Aug. 8, telling the story of Jewish youth at Gross-Breesen, an agricultural training farm on border of Germany and Poland established before World War II. The exhibit, free and open to everyone, will be on view in Blowers Gallery in UNC Asheville’s Ramsey Library during regular library hours. A closing reception with the exhibition’s curator, New York City-based photographer Steve Strauss and some of the Gross-Breesen relatives, will be held in the gallery from 3-5 p.m. on the exhibition’s final day, Saturday, Sept. 9.

At Gross-Breesen, an agricultural training farm established to help Jewish youth escape mounting Nazi oppression before the start of the Holocaust, children learned farming, gardening, crafts and household duties, along with foreign languages, heritage cultivation and character development.

On Kristallnacht, the Nazis attacked the school and the Jews age 18 and older were taken to Buchenwald concentration camp. But thanks to a network of supporters of the Gross-Breesener's, the 130 Jewish youth who completed the program were able to obtain visas and immigrate to accepting countries around the world.

The exhibition is a mix of original photographs taken at Gross-Breesen, documentary footage, and interviews of deceased and living Gross-Breesen alumni. 

“Gross-Breesen is as much about education as it is about survival,” says Strauss, who worked for the CBS show 60 Minutes for many years and was drawn to the story when shown some of the photos that will be on view at Blowers Gallery. “There was one black and white photograph of a barn interior with sunlight pouring through a lone window onto a triangular pillar of grain. When I was told where it was taken and what the purpose of the farm was, the idea for a mixed media exhibition immediately came to mind.”

Blowers Gallery at UNC Asheville’s Ramsey Library will open daily during this exhibition: 7:45 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 7:45 a.m.-6 p.m. on Fridays; 10 a.m.-6 p.m. on Saturdays; and 10 a.m.-1 a.m. on Sundays. Ramsey Library will be closed on Aug. 12 and 13.

For more information, visit library.unca.edu and http://grossbreesen.com.