Auschwitz Exhibition opens in New York City's Museum of Jewish Heritage - Auschwitz

Auschwitz Exhibition opens in New York City’s Museum of Jewish Heritage

74 years after the liberation of Auschwitz, a traveling exhibition dedicated to the camp is presented for the first in North-America, displaying more than 700 original artifacts and 400 photographs never before shown to a U.S audience.

New York, NY– The traveling exhibition Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away. was today presented to media at the Museum of Jewish Heritage-A living memorial to the Holocaust in Lower Manhattan, New York City, where it will open its doors on May 8th and will run until January 3rd2020. The exhibition, produced in partnership with the international firm Musealia and the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in Poland, is the largest exhibition on Auschwitz ever exhibited in North America.

Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away. arrives in New York City after a successful run at Madrid’s Arte Canal Exhibition Centre, where had more than 600,000 visitors, and was one of the most visited exhibitions in Europe in 2018. The exhibition traces the development of Nazi ideology and tells the transformation of Oświęcim, an ordinary Polish town, to Auschwitz, the most significant Nazi site of the Holocaust.

‘Auschwitz is not only history, it is not a story, a message or a warning. Auschwitz is authentic human pain, sadness, and death. A very concrete tragedy – not a tragedy of more than one million people, but more than one million individual tragedies. Therefore, this exhibition must be based on authenticity,’ said Dr. Piotr M. A. Cywiński, the director of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.

The New York presentation of the exhibition allows visitors to see more than 700 original objects and 400 photographs from more than 20 international museums and institutions, mainly from the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum. The exhibition portrays the reality of Auschwitz with hundreds of personal items –such as suitcases, eyeglasses, and shoes– that belonged to survivors and victims of Auschwitz, including Anne Frank’s personal items never before exhibited in America, and artifacts that depict the world of the SS men: a gas mask used by the SS, or Rudolf Höss’, the longest-serving Auschwitz commandant’s, belongings, for example. The exhibition also displays objects from the camp, such as concrete posts from the fence; part of an original barrack for prisoners from the Auschwitz II-Monowitz camp; and an original German-made Model 2 freight wagon.

‘Ten years ago, it was important to have this exhibit. Now it is more important. Why? Because we still have the Holocaust denial, antisemitism is growing, discrimination is growing, there are mass murdered and genocides still going on in the world’ stressed Bruce C. Ratner, Chairman of the Museum of Jewish Heritage’s Board of Trustees.

The Museum of Jewish Heritage has incorporated into the exhibition more than 100 rare artifacts from its collection, from survivors and liberators who found refuge in the greater New York area: Alfred Kantor’s sketchbook and portfolio with over 150 original paintings and drawings from Theresienstadt, Auschwitz, and the trumpet that musician Louis Bannet (the “Dutch Louis Armstrong”) credits for saving his life while he was imprisoned in the camp. The museum’s collection also includes Heinrich Himmler’s SS dagger and helmet and his annotated copy of Hitler’s Mein Kampf, as well as an anti-Jewish proclamation issued in 1551 by Ferdinand I that was given to Hermann Göring noted by Reinhard Heydrich, German security chief, claiming that 400 years later, the Nazis were completing Ferdinand’s work. These artifacts stand as evidence of a chapter of history that must never be forgotten.

‘This exhibition is a tribute to the memory of the victims, but we also hope it is a sign of warning. That we will be able to understand our present and hopefully build a better future’ said Luis Ferreiro, Director of Musealia and the exhibition project.

Ronald S. Lauder, Founder and Chairman of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation Committee and President of the World Jewish Congress added: ‘It’s the world’s obligation to remember what happened, how it happened and why it happened. We must remember so nothing like this could happen again. Sadly, it all comes at the time when something that I never expected to see again in my lifetime, a new wave of antisemitism sweeping the globe. We must remember the words of Elie Wiesel: never be indifferent’.

Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away. was conceived 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.

‘One of the purposes of our exhibition is to remind us that we do share the world with the dead-people who come before us. But also, in this exhibition, there are reminders of the children, of over 200,000 children who were murdered in Auschwitz. There is evidence of that, sometimes very stark and touching evidence. When we consider the murder of children who were too young to make a mark in the world, we must remember we are not only bound to the dead but also the yet unborn,’ stressed Chief Curator Dr. Robert Jan van Pelt.

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