Auschwitz artifact exhibit to go on tour in United States, Europe

An Auschwitz artifact exhibition will travel to 14 cities across the United States and Europe 72 and a half years after the concentration and extermination camp was liberated, the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum and Memorial announced Wednesday.

"Auschwitz was part of modern history and the memory of Auschwitz is part of our modern world," the statement said. "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."

The collection contains more than 600 original objects, including a Model 2 freight wagon used to transport prisoners to the camp, from various international institutions, such as Yad Vashem – The World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C. It also includes items from survivors and private collections.

"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 against building the future on hatred, racism, anti-Semitism and bottomless contempt for another human being," said Dr. Piotr Cywiński, Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum's director.

The exhibition is a collaboration between the museum, located on the site of the former camp, and the Spanish family-owned company Musealia, who organized the exhibition. Its first stop is scheduled for Madrid by the end of the year.

"The exhibition will offer 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," said Luis Ferreiro, Musealia's director and the exhibition's project director.

"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.

About 1.1 million people, most of them Jewish, were killed at Auschwitz during World War II. The items in the exhibition belonged to both the victims and the German SS officers who ran the concentration camp, which was liberated by the Soviet army on Jan. 27, 1945.

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