Auschwitz remembrance exhibition to take place in Kansas City

The official opening of the “Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away” exhibition at the Bank of America Gallery at Union Station in Kansas City will take place on June 14 which in Poland is the National Day of Remembrance for the Victims of German Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camps.

"The exhibition will open on the 81st anniversary of the first transport of Poles to Auschwitz.” said Auschwitz Museum Director Dr. Piotr M. A. Cywiński.

The exhibition traces the development of Nazi ideology and tells the transformation of the ordinary Polish town of Oświęcim where during the occupation, the German Nazis created the largest concentration camp and extermination centre - at which ca. 1 million Jews, and tens of thousands of others, were murdered, the Auschwitz Museum website wrote.

"Auschwitz did not start with gas chambers. Hatred does not happen overnight; it builds up slowly among people. It does so with words and thoughts, with small everyday acts, with prejudices. When we had the vision to create the exhibition, we conceived its narrative as an opportunity to understand better how such a place could come to exist, and as a warning of where hatred can take us to. Therefore, it is of vital importance to remember the road that led to Auschwitz and the consequences it had," said Luis Ferreiro, the director of Musealia.

Auschwitz Museum emphasised that apart from Jews, 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 artefacts that depict the world of the perpetrators - SS men who created and operated the largest of the German Nazi concentration and extermination camps.

On almost 2 thousand square metres hundreds of artefacts from the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum will be presented including personal items that belonged to survivors and victims of Auschwitz. Other artefacts include concrete posts that were part of the fence of the Auschwitz camp; fragments of an original barracks 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, the museum’s statement reads.

“Union Station is Kansas City's visual voice and historic home. Bringing 'Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away.' to our vast and diverse communities is one of the highest honors we can imagine," said George Guastello, Union Station President & CEO.

An original German-made Model 2 freight wagon used for the deportation of Jews to the ghettos and extermination camps in occupied Poland will be placed in front of the Union Station building.

“This stop at Union Station will also become the last chance to experience the exhibition in the US before it returns to Europe," said Luis Ferreiro.

The exhibition was 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 Centre at the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, led by Dr Piotr Setkiewicz.

It received the Grand Prix of the European Heritage Award / Europa Nostra 2020 Award, Europe's most prestigious heritage prize. The project also came second in the Public Choice Award.