The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum announced Tuesday it had received $17.2 million from the estate of Eric F. Ross, the largest single gift to the museum since it opened in 1993.
Ross, who died in 2010, and his late wife, Lore, were both refugees from Nazi Germany. During their lifetimes the family gave more than $30 million to the museum, which was founded to teach the history of the Holocaust of World War II and to provide leadership against contemporary hatred and genocide.
“Having experienced firsthand Nazi antisemitism and hatred, Eric and Lore Ross became determined and generous investors in Holocaust education,” said Sara J. Bloomfield, the museum director. In a statement, she said, “Their loss and suffering inspired remarkable generosity.’
The bequest will help build the museum’s endowment fund, which has a $200 million goal in the next eight years.
Ross, who fled Germany in 1938, joined the U.S. Army and returned to Europe in 1942. He won a Bronze Star in the conflict. He had a successful business career, starting Alpha Chemical & Plastics in Newark, N.J. and later Mercer Plastics in Florida.
The couple’s support of the museum included $10 million to one of the founding committees and later a $5 million gift to the administrative center in honor of Eric’s parents, Albert and Regina Rosenberg, victims of the Auschwitz-Birkenau killings. Eric Ross was also a member of the museum’s council, its governing board.
The museum has had 30 million visitors since it opened near the National Mall.