The JHC was founded in 1984 by a group of Holocaust survivors, dedicated to ensuring that the horrors they endured serve as lessons for future generations.
They stated their mission as follows:
The Jewish Holocaust Centre is dedicated to the memory of the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators between 1933 and 1945.
We consider the finest memorial to all victims of racist policies to be an educational program that aims to combat antisemitism, racism and prejudice in the community, and fosters understanding between peoples.
From the time they first opened their doors, schools and visitors came to learn about the Holocaust from eyewitnesses. Interest grew and grew, so that eventually the organisation became professionalised. Today the museum attracts over 23,000 students per annum and is widely celebrated for its work in the area of Holocaust Education.
Over the years, volunteers and the JHC have gained many distinguished honours, including the Westpac Museum of the Year and the Victorian State Government’s Multicultural Award. The work and achievement of individual volunteers has been recognised in Australia Day and Queen’s birthday honours. In 2010, following a remodelling of the museum it was awarded the prestigious Small Museum, Permanent Development Award at the Museum and Gallery National Awards (MAGNA).
In the early days they relied on the donation of time, materials and money from Holocaust survivors, their families and other supporters. Following a generous donation from the late Mina Fink in memory of her late husband, Leo Fink, an old double-story building (a former dance school) was purchased and subsequently turned into a space suitable for a museum and a library.
In 1990, the museum was remodelled and the Smorgon Family Auditorium was created, doubling the size of the museum area as well as providing larger facilities for hosting educational programs and seminars.
The continuing support of the community enabled further extensions to the museum in 1999 with the opening of the Hadassa and Szymon Rosenbaum Research Centre, by the then Governor-General of Australia, Sir William Deane.
The Jewish Holocaust Centre was granted incorporation in November 2000, with a new Board of Management, representing five community organisations, including B’nai Brith Anti-Defamation League and Kadimah Yiddish Cultural Centre.
In 2016 the JHC had grown so much that a decision was made to rebuild. Thanks to the wonderful support of the community as well as the Federal and State Governments this dream is now becoming a reality.