The Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust will present the most comprehensive Holocaust exhibition about Auschwitz ever exhibited in North America. “Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away.” created by the Auschwitz Memorial and the Spanish company Musealia will open in New York City on May 8, 2019 and run through January 3, 2020.
For the first time, 74 years after the liberation of Auschwitz, a traveling exhibition dedicated to the historical significance of the camp will be presented to a U.S. audience. The exhibition’s opening on May 8 marks the anniversary of VE Day or Victory in Europe Day, 1945, when the Allies celebrated Nazi Germany’s surrender of its armed forces and the end of World War II.
“Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away.” will arrive in New York City after the exhibition completed a successful run in Madrid, where it was extended two times, drew more than 600,000 visitors, and was one of the most visited exhibitions in Europe last year.
Featuring more than 700 original objects, the New York presentation of the exhibition will allow visitors to experience artifacts from the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum including hundreds of personal items—such as suitcases, eyeglasses, and shoes—that belonged to survivors and victims of Auschwitz.
Other artifacts include concrete posts that were part of the fence of the Auschwitz camp; fragments of an original barrack for prisoners from the Auschwitz III-Monowitz camp; a desk and other possessions of the first and the longest serving Auschwitz commandant Rudolf Höss; a gas mask used by the SS; Picasso’s Lithograph of Prisoner; and an original German-made Model 2 freight wagon used for the deportation of Jews to the ghettos and extermination camps in occupied Poland.
The Museum of Jewish Heritage has incorporated into the exhibition more than 100 rare artifacts from its collection that relay the experience of survivors and liberators who found refuge in the greater New York area.
“Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away.” was conceived of by Musealia and the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum and curated by an international panel of experts, including world-renowned scholars Dr. Robert Jan van Pelt, Dr. Michael Berenbaum, and Paul Salmons, in an unprecedented collaboration with historians and curators at the Research Center at the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, led by Dr. Piotr Setkiewicz.
The exhibition traces the development of Nazi ideology and tells the transformation of an ordinary Polish town of Oświęcim where during the occupiation the German Nazis created the largest concentration camp and extermination center—at which ca. 1 million Jews, and tens of thousands of others, were murdered. Victims included Polish political prisoners, Sinti and Roma, Soviet POWs, and other groups persecuted by Nazi ideology, such as: disabled, asocials, Jehovah’s Witnesses or homosexuals. In addition, the exhibition contains artifacts that depict the world of the perpetrators—SS men who created and operated the largest of the German Nazi concentration and extermination camps.
“While commemorating the victims of Auschwitz we should also feel moral discomfort. Antisemitic, hateful, xenophobic ideologies that in the past led to the human catastrophe of Auschwitz, seem not to be erased from our lives today. That is why studying the Holocaust shouldn’t be limited to history classes. It must become part of curricula of political and civic education, ethics, media, and religious studies. This exhibition is one of the tools we can use,” said Dr. Piotr M. A. Cywiński, Director of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.
“Six million Jews were murdered and Jewish ways of life were nearly stamped out forever. Documented facts of this history, original records and photographs, and witnesses’ accounts are our strongest answers to those who deny or minimize the Holocaust. We must ensure that the horrors of the Holocaust are not lost to fading memories,” said Michael S. Glickman, President & CEO of the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust. “Learning the history of the Holocaust as a history of individuals is an act of resistance. The Museum will present this groundbreaking exhibition to ensure that we mobilize the painful lessons of the past to create a world worthy of our children’s futures.”
“Seventy-three years ago, after the world saw the haunting pictures from Auschwitz, no one in their right mind wanted to be associated with Nazis. But today, 73 years and three generations later, people have forgotten, or they never knew,” said Ron Lauder, Founder and Chairman of the The Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation Committee and President of the World Jewish Congress. “This exhibit reminds them, in the starkest ways, where anti- Semitism can ultimately lead and the world should never go there again. The title of this exhibit is so appropriate because this was not so long ago, and not so far away.”
“In the wake of alarming studies that point to the ways in which collective Holocaust memory is disappearing, the Museum is increasingly focused on ensuring that visitors not only walk through the doors of our lower Manhattan home, but also leave with a more concrete and expansive understanding of the Holocaust,” said Bruce C. Ratner, Chairman of the Museum’s Board of Trustees.
“Auschwitz did not start with the gas chambers. Hatred does not happen overnight: it builds up slowly among people. When we had the vision to create the exhibition we conceived its narrative as an opportunity to better understand how such a place could come to exist, and as warning of where hatred can take us to,” said Luis Ferreiro, Director of Musealia and the exhibition project.
“All through the exhibition there are stories—stories about individuals and families, stories about communities and organizations, stories about ideologies that teach people to hate, and responses that reveal compassion and love. There are stories of victims, perpetrators, and bystanders, stories with heroes and villains—stories that all merge into an epic story of a continent marked by war and genocide,” said Chief Curator Dr. Robert Jan van Pelt.
The exhibition features artifacts and materials on loan from more than 20 institutions and private collections around the world. In addition to the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum and the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaustfrom where most of the objects come, participating institutions include Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, Auschwitz Jewish Center in Oświęcim, the Memorial and Museum Sachsenhausen in Oranienburg, and the Wiener Library for the Study of the Holocaust and Genocide in London.
GENERAL INFORMATION & OPENING HOURS & TICKETS are already available at the website Auschwitz.nyc