June 2020

Covid-19 has changed everything. The way we see other people. The activities we do, or choose not to do. What we touch and what we don’t. Where we go, where we can’t go. In short, it has changed the way we live.

But despite the limitations (of which there are certainly many), there have also been pockets of good news during this difficult time. I’ve seen family members get closer—both those in close physical proximity and also those in distant, but close virtual contact. I have also seen the way people try to help one another, making extra efforts to connect. As we pass each other on streets or park trails, we seem to smile more and greet each other more enthusiastically, masked and gloved as we are, grateful that we are seeing another person (I think this is especially true for those sheltering in isolation—like me).

Video resumen Exposición Auschwitz
from Auschwitz Exhibition on Vimeo.

In addition, I have just received two pieces of great news regarding the superb exhibition, currently on display at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York City, titled “Auschwitz—Not Long Ago, Not Far Away”:

1-The exhibit will be extended until December 31, 2020! It had already been extended once before, (it was supposed to close this past January 1), but because of massive crowds, it was extended until the end of the summer. However, with COVID closing all the museums, and shutting out thousands of people from the museum, there has just been a new announcement that this exhibit can now be seen until the end of the year.

Our photos are included in a very strategic location on the museum’s 3rd floor. With a title like “Lives Once Lived”, the visitor literally walks into this display of photos that Jews carried with them to Auschwitz-Birkenau, to remember the happiest moments of their lives. These photos are gripping, uplifting, and heartbreaking, all at once. By the way, perpendicular to this wall of beautiful photos from “The Last Album” collection are photos that can only be described as ‘cheerful, frolicking Nazis, in their free time.” It’s a powerful positioning: on one wall, innocent Jews before they were killed, in the beautiful photos they chose for their own remembering, and on the adjacent wall, the images of the perpetrators who killed them.

Having this exhibit extended is great news for us all!

2-More good news: In addition to the extension, this exhibit has just won a prestigious award from the European Union, and especially for its educational component. Luis Ferreio, head of Musealia (Note: Musealia is the organization that commissioned this Auschwitz exhibition) has just announced:

“We’ve received a major recognition for our traveling exhibition “Auschwitz—Not Long Ago, Not Far Away”. We’re one of the winners in the European Heritage Awards / Europa Nostra Awards 2020—the most prestigious awards in the field of European heritage.”

Luis continues:
“The exhibition won in the Education, Training and Awareness-Raising category and contains hundreds of original artifacts, which help audiences explore the complex story of the German Nazi’s largest concentration camp and extermination centre—a place where close to 1.1 million people were killed, mostly Jews, as well as Poles, Roma and Sinti, Soviet prisoners of war and others.”

“The awards were launched by the European Commission in 2002, are funded by the European Union’s Creative Europe program and run by Europa Nostra, a pan-European network of heritage organizations.”

The jury said the exhibition “preserves the memory of one of the worst episodes in the history of humanity and is based on deep, scientific, historical research. It succeeded in recreating the emotional experience of visiting the real site, which is challenging for a traveling exhibition and is thanks in part to the richness of the content.”

“The exhibition is the result of years of intense work by our teams at Musealia and the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum. We’re incredibly grateful to all the curators (AW’s note—especially Chief Curator, Robert Jan van Pelt), designers, educators, writers, conservators and many others who’ve made this award possible—as well as to the more than 20 international institutions that have loaned us many of the important artifacts on display (Note: One of these 20 institutions is “Eyes from the Ashes Foundation” and Ann Weiss).

Luis Ferreiro concludes by saying, “This recognition encourages us to carry on preserving this essential common heritage. Europe is constructed on the moral ruins of Auschwitz: it’s not possible to understand the freedom, democracy and safety we share today, without confronting it.”

Congratulations to Musealia and “Auschwitz—Not Long Ago, Not Far Away”!

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