“It happened, therefore it can happen again: this is the core of what we have to say.” - Primo Levi, Auschwitz Prisoner
For the first time in history, an exhibition co-produced by the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum and Spanish company Musealia is traveling to the main capital cities of the world to show an extraordinary collection of more than 700 original exhibits of inestimable historic and human value, that bears direct witness to one of the darkest chapters of humankind.
Small personal belongings from some of the victims, structural elements from the huge camp, documents and unpublished audio-visual materials make up a rigorous and moving tour with a clear goal – knowing first-hand how such a place could come into existence and what were its terrible consequences. An unforgettable reflection on the very nature of the human being and the complex reality of Auschwitz, the universe shared by victims and perpetrators.
Artifacts on display include 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 II-Birkenau camp; fragments of an original barrack for prisoners in 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, and an original Model 2 freight train car used for the deportation of Jews to the ghettos and extermination camps in German-occupied Poland.
“We gather here today, as we have been so eloquently told here, for a solemn, profound, saddening, and yet triumphant occasion. It's an occasion that commemorates all we've lost -- the irreplaceable humanity whose monstrous end will ever testify to the hellish depths of human evil. But it's an occasion that commemorates something else as well, it commemorates the seriousness of our intention -- as human beings, as Americans, and, in the case of many here today, as Jews -- to keep the memory of the 6 million, fresh and enduring.
We who did not go their way owe them this. We must make sure their deaths have posthumous meaning. We must make sure that from now until the end of days all humankind stares this evil in the face, that all humankind knows what this evil looks like and how it came to be. And when we truly know it for what it was, then and only then can we be sure that it will never come again.”
- Ronald Reagan during Remarks at the Site of the Future Holocaust Memorial Museum, October 5, 1988.
The exhibition is recommended for ages 12+. Although the history of Auschwitz is challenging, we have developed this exhibition not only with profound respect for the victims, but also for our visitors. Care has been taken to ensure that there are no gratuitous depictions of violence. Every effort has been made to consider the emotional impact this story can have on our visitors, so that they can safely explore this history, seek to understand it better, and to make meaning for themselves.
For a list of collaborating institutions, lenders of artifacts, copyright holders, and key acknowledgments, click here.
Exhibit made possible thanks to Presenting Underwriter Ambassador Gordon D. Sondland