Our responsibility today is the same as it was ‘not so long ago and not so far away. "Auschwitz" exhibition opened in New York.
The exhibition “Auschwitz. Not Long Ago. Not Far Away” created by the Auschwitz Memorial and the Spanish company Musealia was officially inaugurated in New York at The Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust. It is the first presentation of the exhibit in the USA. Visitors will be able to see it between May 8, 2019 and January 3, 2020.
The exhibition focuses on Auschwitz not only as the authentic space of the largest documented mass murder in human history, but also as a symbol of the limitless expression of hatred and human cruelty.
‘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 Museum.
'It is an exhibition about our contemporary world – ‘not long ago and not far away’. The language of hatred, the extremist propaganda, populism, xenophobic movements, racism, antisemitism, terror attacking innocent victims, separatism, exclusion, and indifference are constantly growing in strength,’ he added.
‘Our responsibility today is the same as it was ‘not so long ago and not so far away,’ stressed director Cywiński.
Featuring more than 700 original objects, the New York presentation of the exhibition 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; Pablo 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.
‘Auschwitz is of course a story of pain and memory. I remember that my driving instructor kept reminding me that you always need to look in the rear mirror to see what is happening behind you. It’s similar with history - it’s not enough only to look into the past to remember. 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 built a better future,’ said Luis Ferreiro, Director of Musealia and the exhibition project.
The Museum of Jewish Heritage has incorporated into the exhibition many of its rare artifacts from its collection that relay the experience of survivors and liberators who found refuge in the greater New York area. There are also some objects connected with the world of perpetrators, like a copy of ‘Mein Kampf’ and a helmet belonging to the head of the SS Heinrich Himmler.
‘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. How important is it for people today to see how this could happened that state sponsored murder in the relatively short period of time can murder over 1 million people,’ stressed Bruce C. Ratner, Chairman of the Museum’s Board of Trustees.
"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.
‘What an extraordinary exhibit we have in front of our eyes today. For the first time ever the people of New York can see actual objects and understand the horrors of Auschwitz, all the pain, suffering, the brutality, it’s all here. 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,’ said Ronald S. Lauder, Chairman of the The Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation Committee USA and President of the World Jewish Congress.
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 Holocaust from 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.
‘One of the purposes of our exhibition is to remind us that in the shared world 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.
"Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away." arrived 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.
More information and tickets: auschwitz.nyc