"Auschwitz. Death factory" – new temporary exhibition at the Auschwitz Memorial
"Auschwitz. Death factory. Topography and Daily Life of a Concentration and Extermination camp” is the title of the exposition, which will be on display until 30 October 2016 at the camp’s laundry building on the premises of the former Auschwitz I camp. The exhibition was prepared by the National Socialism Documentation Center in Cologne, Peter Siebers and Prof. Gideon Greif, in cooperation with the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.
The exhibition consists of boards, multimedia stations, models of the crematorium and a set of plans and maps containing a complete set of building plans designed by German architects, tasked with the responsibility of expanding the camp complex. “The core of our exhibition are technical drawings and architectural plans, which constitute the full documentation of the so-called main camp. We also show re-creations of the extermination camp Auschwitz II-Birkenau, and Monowitz concentration camp. We combine technical drawings with drawings made by prisoners and their biographies. In this way, the technocracy of terror and extermination confronts the daily suffering of prisoners. Thanks to the media stations, we can also present the testimonies of survivors,” wrote the authors of the exhibition.
‘Architectural plans presented here are a testament to some thoughts that arose on this scale for the first time in the history of mankind. They presented what most distinguished Auschwitz as a German concentration camp, but primarily as an extermination machine. It was a huge planning and architectural venture: with its own logistics, logic, well-thought-out architectural choices, with changing concepts, which the camp Bauleitung constantly worked on, under the guidance of SS engineers and architects. They were fully aware of the role of each metre of the investment that they created This exhibition does not only demonstrates the crime scale, but the scale of the human imagination to create a rigorous machine of absolute evil,’ said Dr. Piotr M. A. Cywiński, director of the Auschwitz Museum at the opening of the exhibition.
The director of the National Socialism Documentation Center in Cologne, Dr. Werner Jung said that the presentation of the exhibition at the Auschwitz Memorial is a huge honour for him. – Thank you very much for the very good cooperation with the Auschwitz Museum on the preparation of this project. In our opinion, it will play a very important role in research and education. Its first part is a Polish-English exhibition, which has already been shown in Łódź, and after the Auschwitz Memorial, it will go to Gliwice and Warsaw among others. The second instalment of the exhibition is the German-English version, which has been on display for 1.5 year in our headquarters. The third element will be a three-language publication due to be released soon,’ he said.
Just as the authors of the exposition wrote, “Auschwitz” is a word that is today often used as a metaphor of the cruellest crimes committed by Nazi Germany. "Auschwitz" is above all a symbol of the Holocaust – the extermination of the European Jews. German Nazi concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau was the largest extermination centre in the context of the so-called “Endlösung der Judenfrage” (the final solution to the Jewish question). Simultaneously, "Auschwitz" is a symbol of the unique suffering of the Polish nation under German occupation. "Auschwitz" is finally an important place of remembrance of the genocide of the Sinti and Roma, as well as a symbol of the suffering of the Soviet prisoners of war.
“The universalization of the concept of Auschwitz means, however, that historical events recede into the background. They cease to be associated with a particular geographical area and the memory of the victims and perpetrators fade away. The aim of the exhibition is to show that Auschwitz was a concrete point on the map. Our exhibition is the first such detailed reconstruction of the place of execution in its dimension of planning and architecture,” we read.
The exhibition, as well as the accompanying education programme, is supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Germany, the Foundation for Polish-German Cooperation, the Sparkasse Credit Union Köln Bonn and the Cologne public transport company Kölner Verkehrsbetriebe AG.
Polish-English exhibition “Auschwitz. Death factory. Topography and Daily Life of a Concentration and Extermination camp” will be presented in the laundry building on the premises of the former Auschwitz I in the hours: 9:00-17:00 in September and in the hours: 9:00 to 16:00 in October.