NORTH ADAMS -- Eagle Street's newest addition saw a soft opening Friday night, on a night significant to the World War II museum's subject matter.
Friday night marked the 74th anniversary of Kristallnacht, a stormtrooper-led destruction of Jewish shops and temples across Nazi Germany that's viewed by historians as an ominous precursor to future policies, and North Adams native Darrell K. English chose it to begin hosting guests at the 45 Eagle St. space.
He's called the museum the New England Holocaust Institute.
"It's basically a showcase ... the items are going to end up somewhere and I'm hoping and trying to build the momentum for it here," English said. "That's my dream."
The 54-year-old has been collecting for 40-plus years, stockpiling an assortment that's been estimated by historians to contain over 10,000 World War II items.
At the 650-square-foot Eagle Street space -- formerly part of the Papyri Books store -- English has arranged choice pieces in a chronological display that gives a narrative arc to the war.
"I try to show how the madness started," he said.
Letters, photographs, propaganda posters, newspaper clippings, passports, military uniforms and more take viewers along the journey from the end of World War One to the abject horror of history's greatest crime.
Over the years, historians have ogled English's collection, and long advocated some kind of official archiving. Items of particular interest have included a book handed down by Oskar Schindler and another that was potentially paged through by Josef Mengele; a Ukranian poster warning of the coming expulsion of Jews that English bought from an immigrant turkey farmer at age 15; and a photo of Hitler and his top aides on the night of his announcement of Nazi Germany's invasion of Poland.
"In North Adams you now have a collection that is the historical envy of the world, put together by one little guy who's spent his entire life hunting this stuff down," English said.
Ultimately, English wishes to found a museum to contain his collection in Berkshire County.
"Each and every one of these items has survived; they've made their way here and I'm hoping to share them with the world," English said. "It all just doesn't fit in my house anymore."
To reach Phil Demers, email