From 1933-1945, more than 11 million people perished at Nazi concentration, extermination, and slave labor camps, and by ethnic cleansing (ghetto elimination). When Allied troops liberated Nazi Germany’s concentration camps, the soldiers found millions of shoes in huge piles. Those shoes belonged to the people, adults and children alike, who had lost their lives in those death camps.
The Holocaust Shoe Project's genesis came from those images.
We are here to promote Holocaust awareness and education, and provide a lesson in turning human cruelty into redemptive acts of kindness.
Founder Alan Morawiec is the youngest son of a Holocaust survivor. His father, Chaim Baruch, was the only member of his family, and only one of two Jews from his hometown of Kobryn, Poland, to survive the holocaust and WWII. He passed away in 2009 at 90 years old.
His father’s story inspired Alan to start The Holocaust Shoe Project in 2000 as a way to teach people about the horrors of the Holocaust and help those in the world who are less fortunate. He presents his father's survival story, while also giving a brief history of the Holocaust and an important lesson in bullying prevention, at schools, civic organizations, and religious institutions. Alan collects new and serviceable shoes for charity throughout the school year and displays them in his school lobby during Holocaust Awareness Week. The shoes are then distributed locally and internationally to organizations that give them to people in need free of charge.
Alan Morawiec (left) with his father Chaim Baruch.
Children lining up to receive a pair of donated shoes
Botswana, Africa - 2012
In the spring of 1942, Chaim, with several other young men, was selected to be a slave laborer on a horse drive to Zhytomyr in northern Ukraine (a distance of about 250 miles). Once there, Chaim and the other slave laborers were imprisoned in a camp guarded by Ukranian sentries. A sympathetic Ukranian guard warned Chaim and his fellow prisoners that the Germans meant to execute them and that he (the guard) would turn his back during the night and allow them to escape. Chaim believed the guard - a few other Jews did too - but most of the imprisoned Jews found the guard's story implausable. Chaim and a few friends did as the guard suggested and escaped the camp the following night and hid in the nearby woods…
If you would like to hear the full story, please:
Do you know of a group, town, or village that would benefit from receiving shoes?
Would you like to start your own collection of shoes for charity?
Are you interested in Holocaust awareness and education?
Or maybe you just have a question…
Call us, drop us a line, or send a message on WhatsApp and we’ll get back to you within 48 hrs.