AUSCHWITZ-BIRKENAU

Auschwitz I

The route for visitors in the main camp ran from the “Arbeit macht Frei” gate to block 11, and from there to gas chamber and crematorium I. Along the way, visitors could see the exhibitions in block 4 (The Extermination of the Millions), 5 and 6 (the property of the murdered Jews), 7 (an exhibition of works by ex prisoner/artists Jerzy Brandhuber, Marian Kościelniak, and Tadeusz Myszkowski), 8 (the block in its 1940 state), 9 (the block in its 1944 state), and 11 (the “Death Block” and its courtyard). The exhibition was prepared by Museum employees, with the exception of the exhibition on the destruction of the Jews in block 4 which, under the agreement mentioned above, was designed by CŻKH employees and installed by Jewish artists.

A letter from Blumental to Rajewski on July 19, 1947 indicates that the Jewish representatives approved the current state of the exhibition, even though it was not yet complete, but regarded it as only temporary. Blumental described the building containing their exhibition as “the cornerstone of the Museum of Jewish Martyrdom” that, as a department of the Auschwitz Museum, would occupy one or more pavilions and present the killing of Jews from Poland and other countries in Auschwitz, and also in Bełżec, Treblinka, Chełmno, and Sobibór.

Later discussions at sessions of the Historical Commission of the State Museum in Oświęcim indicate that its members, as well, felt that the way in which the Destruction of the Jews was presented required elaboration, and they addressed repeated requests to the CŻKH to supply the needed material. The minutes of Commission meetings indicate that these requests went unanswered. Eventually, the Museum historical Commission gave up. This marked the end of cooperation with the CŻKH, and nothing ever came of the plans for a “Museum of Jewish Martyrdom” within the Oświęcim Museum structure.

In its place, the exhibition presenting the history of the martyrdom of the Jews opened in Block 27 in 1968. It should be added that the Destruction of the Jews was also commemorated at Bełżec, Treblinka, Chełmno, and Sobibór.