"Shoah". New exhibition in block 27. Light of Remembrance for Avner Shalev.
On 13 June in block 27 of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, a new national exhibition entitled “Shoah” was opened. The ceremony was attended by, among others, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Polish Minister of Culture and National Heritage Bogdan Zdrojewski. The exhibition was prepared by the Yad Vashem Institute in Jerusalem. During the solemn inauguration of the exhibition, the director of the Institute, Avner Shalev, was honoured with the “Light of Remembrance” award, which was granted by the Museum for his outstanding contribution to the education about Auschwitz and the Holocaust. Guests of honour of the ceremony were Holocaust survivors, including Israel Meir Lau, former Chief Rabbi of Israel.
At the beginning, guests visited the new exhibition, which is divided into several galleries. They are devoted to such things as Jewish life before the war, the ideology of the Nazis and the extermination of Jews within the Nazi-occupied Europe. One of the rooms was dedicated to the memory of children murdered during the Holocaust, and in it you can see the work of artist Michal Rovner, who used dozens of children's drawings in her creation.
The exhibition concludes with a section devoted to memory, including room with a book of names, in which are gathered all the names of the victims of the Holocaust collected by the Yad Vashem Institute, as well as Reflection Centre, a special audio-visual room, where you can read the stories of many prominent figures from the world of science, culture and religion to the most important questions posed after the Holocaust.
Museum Director, Dr. Piotr M.A. Cywinski, said that the new exhibition in block 27 from the beginning had been prepared with a view to the future main exhibition of the Auschwitz Memorial. “The goal of the Museum and Yad Vashem was to create a space of understanding that will make the most formed part of the whole meaning of the Memorial. In this way, generations of visitors will be able to fully comprehend the vastness of the destruction that took place in the centre of the dominated by the Nazi Germany Europe,” he said.
According to the curator of the exhibition, Avner Shalev, director of the Yad Vashem Institute, the new exhibition shows the basic dimensions of the Holocaust in a unique way and places the individual and his experience in the centre. “Chapter by chapter, we show the most important topics related to the Holocaust, which is not necessarily a historical narrative, but rather a presentation of the very deep ethical and cultural dimensions of the memory of the Holocaust. To the visitor, this experience is to be a deep, meaningful and complete reflection on our fundamental morals as a people and members of today's global civilization,” said Avner Shalev.
During the course of the inaugural tour, Avner Shalev was awarded with the “Light of Remembrance” award. This is a tribute to those involved in maintaining and transferring the memory of the former German Nazi concentration and extermination camp of Auschwitz. “Avner Shalev, as director of the Yad Vashem Institute, has contributed greatly to the expansion of cooperation between our institutions. I am deeply grateful to him for everything in connection with the seminars for Israeli and Polish educators and Polish teachers. This newly opened Jewish exhibition, curated by Avner Shalev, is an excellent example of his great concern and huge personal commitment to the preservation of the memory of the victims of the Shoah,” said Andrzej Kacorzyk
A solemn ceremony was then held in front of block 27. “I am aware of the fact of how difficult it is to put in any museum’s space a piece of memory. The building, which is behind me, is very modest. ;So how ;to locate in it the memory of more than one million murdered children? It simply cannot be done. Doing this requires huge spaces and amounts of our activity,” said Minister Bogdan Zdrojewski, who spoke to the director of Yad Vashem Avner Shalev: “This has been done. You did so much in a very important way, restrained aesthetically, you have built the space of these crucial experiences. I want to thank you very much."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in his speech told about the hall of the exhibition that is dedicated to the murdered children, as well as a book with the names of the Holocaust victims: “I have just seen the children's drawings ;— flowers and gallows, and the drawing of a child who in a captivity draw a rabbit that runs around freely. I saw and touched the names of millions of Jews. Not all of them were sent here. One and a half million of them were murdered in the forests ;and the executions in the villages and in the pits. Among them was the twin sister of my blessed father-in-law Shmuel Ben Artzi. Hon Judith was beautiful and young. When she was murdered, she was about 20 years. I saw her name here. There are people who deny the Holocaust. Come to the block 27 and see the name after the name."
After the opening ceremony, the Prime Minister of Israel went to the courtyard of Block 11, where at the Death Wall he paid tribute to the victims.