New international travelling exhibition on the history of Auschwitz opened in Madrid
Almost 73 years after the liberation of the German Nazi concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz, its history and meaning is told in a new monographic travelling exhibition "Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away". It's the largest exhibition of that kind dedicated to the topic of Auschwitz and the Holocaust in history.
Until June 17, 2018 it will stay at the Arte Canal Exhibition Center in Madrit. In the next 7 years it will visit altogether 14 cities around the world, 7 in Europe and 7 in North America, bringing its history closer to millions of people.
The exhibition was conceived and designed by Musealia and its international curatorial team of experts, including Dr. Michael Berenbaum, Dr. Robert Jan van Pelt and Paul Salmons, in an unprecedented collaboration with the experts from the Auschwitz Memorials: curators of Collections, conservators, archivist and historians from the Research Center headed by Dr. Piotr Setkiewicz.
On 2,500 square meters the exhibition displays more than 600 original objects, most of them belonging to the Auschwitz Memorial Collections. The project also involves specific loans from various international institutions, such as Yad Vashem - The World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC and different Holocaust centers in North America and Europe, as well as from survivors and private collections.
Visitors can see hundreds of personal items that belonged to people deported to Auschwitz such as suitcases, eyeglasses, shoes or items of everyday use, fragments of an original barracks for prisoners from Auschwitz III-Monowitz camp, the desk of the first Auschwitz commandant Rudolfa Hoess, gas mask used by the SS garrison or an original German-made Model 2 freight wagon, of the type used by the Deutsche Reichsbahn (German National Railway) during World War II for the transport of soldiers, prisoners-of war, and for the deportation of Jews to the ghettos and extermination camps in occupied Poland.
These unique items cover the main topics of the history of Auschwitz, as well as all the victim groups in the camp: Jews deported for extermination, Poles, Sinti and Roma and Soviet prisoners of war. In addition, some items will also depict the world of the perpetrators – SS men who created and operated the largest of the German Nazi camps.
“Not long ago. Not far away” is the subtitle of the exhibition, as Auschwitz was part of modern history and the memory of Auschwitz is part of our modern world. Understanding how that place came to be, and what this means for our view of ourselves, is one of the core purposes of this project.
Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum Director, Dr. Piotr M. A. Cywiński, stated that “today, the world is moving in uncertain directions. Auschwitz is not only an extremely painful memory of the past. Today, as in so many countries we feel an alarming increase of antisemitism, racism and xenophobia, the history of Auschwitz is unfortunately taking on a new, meaningful role as a warning for the future.".
"Peace is not given once and for all. That is why we all should safeguard equality of rights, respect, fundamental human rights and democracy on a daily basis in our lives, in our reality and within our reach. Passivity and consent are concepts almost equivalent to the cause of evil," he added.
“Nothing can replace a visit to the authentic site of the biggest crime of the twentieth century, but this exhibition, which people in many countries will have the opportunity to see, can become a great warning cry for us all,” he emphasized.
“The exhibition offers an introspective journey across the very nature of mankind, experienced through the ‘dual’ history of the camp: Auschwitz as a physical location and Auschwitz as a symbol and metaphor for the borderless manifestation of human barbarity,” stated Luis Ferreiro from Musealia, Project Director for the exhibition.
“It will also place Auschwitz in its historical context, allowing visitors to understand the pre-war years of Polish Oświęcim, and the later German occupation and terror system they established,” he added.
More information and tickets: www.auschwitz.net. School groups enjoy free access to the exhibition due to the collaboration between Canal de Isabel II, hosting partner of the exhibition in Madrid, and Musealia. Both entities will subsidize the free visit with the intention of increasing knowledge of history and emphasizing the importance of the defense of human rights and an overall respect for diversity.