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DATE: Nov. 22, 2005

Gift establishes the Erwin and Riva Baker Memorial Holocaust Collection

DEARBORN---Erwin and Riva Baker were Holocaust survivors, the only members of their immediate families to survive the Holocaust in the Ukraine.

Steven Gershman is honoring the memory of the Bakers with a cash gift to the University of Michigan-Dearborn's Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive.

His gift establishes the Erwin and Riva Baker Memorial Holocaust Collection, a reference set that will be a visible, widely-accessed resource to students, researchers and the community.

"It is an honor and a privilege for me to fund this collection," Gershman said. "It is my wish that when the reader makes a selection from the Baker Collection, they will learn about the Holocaust and the Bakers as well."

Erwin and Riva Baker both came from large families; Riva from a family of eight siblings and Erwin from a family of four. Their entire families were exterminated by the Nazis.

"I cannot even begin to fathom the extent of their loss," Gershman said.
The Bakers did not have any children of their own, he said. Despite the hardships the couple endured in their lives, they did not become bitter people.

"Although Riva Baker was not biologically related to me, Riva was my family," he said. "She became both my mother and father. Through the 25 years that I took care of her following her husband's death, we developed a bond. She came from the same European town as my father. Consequently, she knew my father's family and my father knew hers. This, in and of itself, created another bond."

Although the bulk of the collection centers on Holocaust survivor memoirs and diaries, it also focuses on monographs, pictorial works and documentary sources concerning the Holocaust, according to Jamie L. Wraight, curator and historian of the Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive.

The collection, which currently contains more than 180 books, videotapes and DVDs, is housed in UM-Dearborn's Mardigian Library.

Items will continue to be added to the collection, with a catalog available at http://libraryweb.umd.umich.edu/research/baker.html.

Gershman hopes other donors will contribute to the Voice/Vision Archive so that the project will become one of the nation's premiere archival collections.

"What I did was lay the foundation for this portion of the collection," Gershman said. "Now we must build."

For more information on the Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive and the Baker family, visit http://holocaust.umd.umich.edu/.

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