“Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away” exhibition with the European Heritage Award / Europa Nostra Award
The exhibition „Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away” prepared jointly by the Spanish company Musealia and the Auschwitz Memorial has received the Grand Prix of the European Heritage Award / Europa Nostra Award. It is the most prestigious European award in the heritage field. The project was second in Public Choice Award. The awards were presented in a special online ceremony on 10 November 2020.
The exhibition traces the development of Nazi ideology and tells the transformation of an ordinary Polish town of Oświęcim where during the occupation the German Nazis created the largest concentration camp and extermination center—at which ca. 1 million Jews, and tens of thousands of others, were murdered. 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 artifacts that depict the world of the perpetrators—SS men who created and operated the largest of the German Nazi concentration and extermination camps.
“The award is an important signal. The exhibition has been very well received by the visitors as well as by schools and the media. It is a very good, modern, extensive exhibition about the history of the camp and its victims. But today, for me, it is extremely important that the history of dehumanization of the victims touches the very heart of our postwar identity," said Auschwitz Museum director Dr. Piotr M. A. Cywiński.
“Regardless of the development of the epidemic situation in the world, every step in creating a safer, more friendly world that respects human rights is a step against all ideologies of hatred, racism, antisemitism or xenophobia,” he emphasized.
Luis Ferreiro, the director of Musealia said, that it is not possible to understand the space of freedom, democracy and security that we share today as Europeans without facing this story. “Europe is built on the moral ruins of Auschwitz. It happened in the heart of Europe and just a generation ago,” he stated.
“This recognition encourages us to keep working in preserving this vital heritage of memory, reaching out with its message to citizens all over the world,” he added.
According to the jury this awareness-raising and educational project preserves the memory of one of the worst episodes in the history of humanity and is based on deep, scientific, historical research. „The topic is communicated in a direct and accessible way for different audiences without lessening its importance and has already reached an impressive number of visitors. The exhibition is supported by social media dissemination of the contents in order to approach a young audience and to maintain the remembrance of the victims of Auschwitz,” stated the jury.
“A strong network of institutions was engaged in the project and it is an example of good practice for partnerships between non-profit and for-profit organisations. The exhibition opens up the platform for increasing the knowledge, collection and interpretation of the documentation. Its display succeeded in recreating the emotional experience of visiting the real site, which is challenging for a travelling exhibition and is thanks in part to the richness of the content,” the Jury continued.
The first presentation of the exhibition took place in Madrid where it was visited by over 600 thousand people. Now it is displayed in the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York. Featuring more than 700 original objects, the New York presentation of the exhibition allow visitors to experience artifacts from the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum including 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 camp; fragments of an original barrack 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; and an original German-made Model 2 freight wagon used for the deportation of Jews to the ghettos and extermination camps in occupied Poland.
The European Heritage Awards / Europa Nostra Awards were launched by the European Commission in 2002 and have been run by Europa Nostra ever since. This year This year, Europe’s top honor in the heritage field went to 21 exemplary achievements from 15 European countries. Musealia and the Auschwitz Memorial received the award in “Education, Training and Awareness-rising” category. Three projects selected by the jurors from all award recipients were honored with the Grand Prix.
The awards celebrate and promote best practices related to heritage conservation, research, management, volunteering, education and communication. In this way, they contribute to a stronger public recognition of cultural heritage as a strategic resource for Europe’s society, economy and environment. The Awards are funded by the Creative Europe programme of the European Union.
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Over 100,000 visitors of the exhibition about Auschwitz in New York. The exhibit extended until August 2020.