Opening May 8, The Museum of Jewish Heritage—A Living Memorial to the Holocaust will debut the traveling exhibition Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away.
This exhibition, developed by the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in Poland and the exhibition firm Musealia, will explore the legacy of history’s deadliest mass murder site. Inside the concentration camps at Auschwitz, Nazi forces killed 1 million Jewish people and tens of thousands of others. The Nazis used similar camps throughout Europe to imprison and exterminate millions more. Not only will the exhibition give visitors insight on what life was like inside the camps, but it will also explore the doctrine of hate that informed Adolf Hitler and his followers.
The 700 objects at Auschwitz will appear for the first time in North America. They include a German freight car used to transport people to the camps, a barrack from Auschwitz III-Monowitz, and personal effects from prisoners. Other objects include a concrete post used in a fence, an SS gas mask, and Lithograph of Prisoner by Picasso. Through artifacts and other media, the exhibition will document personal stories from Auschwitz prisoners as well as bystanders and perpetrators.
Nazi artifacts will include Heinrich Himmler’s SS dagger and helmet, as well as his copy of Hitler’s book Mein Kampf, filled with Himmler’s notes. Other artifacts will document the development of hate, prejudice, and murder in Nazi Germany.
Not only did Nazis capture and kill Jewish people, but they also targeted members of other minority groups like the Roma, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and physically and mentally disabled people. Dr. Piotr M.A. Cywinski, Director of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, comments that such poisonous ideologies remain all too relevant in our world today. “That is why studying the Holocaust shouldn’t be limited to history classes,” he says. “It must become part of curricula of political and civic education, ethics, media, and religious studies. This exhibition is one of the tools we can use.”
The Museum of Jewish Heritage has also lent 100 objects from its collection to Auschwitz. Visitors will see the trumpet of Louis Bannet, a musician inside Auschwitz who survived the Holocaust, and a recovered Torah scroll from a synagogue in Hamburg, Germany. There will also be drawings from inside the camps, visas issued by “Japan’s Oskar Schindler,” and dreidels found in a mass Jewish grave in the Ukraine.
Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away. presents North America with the most comprehensive view of this important site. The objects come not only from the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum and The Museum of Jewish Heritage, but from over 20 other institutions and private collections worldwide. The materials were curated by Dr. Robert Jan van Pelt, Dr. Michael Berenbaum, and Paul Salmons, in conjunction with the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum. The exhibition formerly showed at Madrid’s Arte Canal Exhibition Centre, where it was extended twice and attended by over 600,000 visitors.
The Museum of Jewish Heritage has devoted 18,000 square feet of space to this exhibition. After visitors have witnessed the 20 galleries of Auschwitz, they will be ushered into the new permanent core exhibition at the museum. The museum will also present a slate of talks, film screenings, and other events relevant to the study of the Holocaust in concert with the exhibition.
Auschwitz will open May 8, 2019 and closes
January 3, 2020 August 30, 2020. May 8 will mark 74 years since VE Day, or Victory in Europe Day, during World War II. On this day in 1945, Nazi Germany surrendered to Allied forces, signifying liberation for Europeans in Nazi prison camps and ghettos.
Tickets are on sale now at both Timed and Premium pricing. Timed tickets require you to attend the exhibition at a certain date and time, while Premium permits you to visit anytime on a specific date. Free audio guides will be available in English, Spanish, French, Hebrew, Mandarin, German, Polish, or Russian.
Holocaust survivors, military veterans, first responders, and teachers and students from the NYC public school system can view Auschwitz free of charge.
The Museum of Jewish Heritage — A Living Memorial to the Holocaust is located at 36 Battery Place. Call 646-437-4202 or visit mjhnyc.org for tickets and more.