The Lighter Side with St. Louis Kaplan Feldman Holocaust Museum Tour Leader Lory Cooper
Briefly describe your work?
When we finish our renovations and reopen in late summer, I will plan field trips and volunteers to lead them.
What are you most expecting from the reopening of the museum?
A new gallery unique to our museum is called “Roles and Perspectives”. It focuses on the various actors involved in the Holocaust and is centered on the idea of choice. This shows the many gray areas and that one almost always has a choice. For example, even a Nazi committing many horrific acts could still help save someone in a brief moment of compassion. It happened to my grandmother, when a neighbor – turned Nazi – recognized her in Auschwitz and chose her for a special selection with better working conditions.
Does the fact that your grandparents were survivors make your work particularly meaningful?
Absolutely. I have a picture with them at my desk. In my grandmother’s Shoah testimony from the 90s, she mentions that I asked her a lot of questions and that I wanted to know everything. I was only 10 when it was recorded. When I got this job, I thought, “My grandmother prophesied that I would be here!”
Have you ever had a particularly memorable experience from a museum visitor?
A few months after I started, I got a call from a college principal who needed some advice. Some boys were in his office because they had indulged in anti-Semitic and white supremacist jokes. I immediately offered to show them around. A few days later, they visited and heard from a survivor, then had lunch at my family’s restaurant (Kohn’s Deli). I heard from their teacher how impactful the experience was and that he had already seen a change in the students.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Being the grandson of survivors, my experience with difficult content was from a happily ever after angle. My focus around the Holocaust is hope and how we can use its lessons to improve our lives and our world.
When you are not at work, what do you do to unwind and relax?
For fun, I love fitness and I run, bike and participate in triathlons. I live right across from Forest Park and take my dog there every day.