Holocaust Museum Receives Largest Gift In Its History - NBC4 Washington

Holocaust Museum Receives Largest Gift In Its History

Refugee's estate gives $17.2 million



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    ISRAEL, JERUSALEM - JANUARY 11: United States President George Bush (3 R) looks up and around the 'Hall of Names' in the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial's museum, accompanyed by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (R), Yad Vashem Director Avner Shalev (2 R) who briefs the president during his tour, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Israeli President Shimon Peres, and Tommy Lapid (L), Chairman of the Yad Vashem Council on January 11, 2008 in Jerusalem, Israel. The hall contains 600 photographic portraits and family photographs of individual Jews exterminated by the Nazis in the Holocaust of World War II, as well as documentation, and is uniquely shaped in a rising conical. (Photo by Pool/Getty Images)

    The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum has received the largest gift in its history after the estate of a wealthy former refugee announced Tuesday that it had donated $17.2 million to the museum's endowment fund.

    The unprecedented donation was announced by the estate of Eric F. Ross of Palm Beach, Fla. and West Orange, N.J.

    Ross, who died in 2010 at the age of 91, was a native of Dortmund, Germany who fled that country in 1938 to escape Adolf Hitler's regime. He returned to Europe during World War II as a soldier in the U.S. Army, where was one of "The Ritchie Boys," a special unit of German-speaking immigrant soldiers who performed translation, intelligence, and propaganda duties.

    After the war, Ross returned to America and made his fortune as the founder of Alpha Chemical and Plastics. Ross and his wife Lore, a fellow Holocaust refugee, supported a number of philanthropic causes, including the Holocaust Museum. At the time of Eric Ross' death, the couple had donated more than $12 million to the museum. 

    The Holocaust Museum is hoping to raise $200 million for its endowment fund over the next eight years.