"Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away" in Malmö, Sweden
The Malmömässan hall in Malmö, Sweden, hosted the official opening of the exhibition "Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away." prepared by the Auschwitz Museum and the Spanish company Musealia.
Malmö is the only city hosting the exhibition in Scandinavia. The exhibition had been previously presented in the Spanish capital and New York and Kansas City in the United States. A total of more than one million people have already viewed the exhibition. More than 35,000 tickets have already been bought in Sweden during the advance sale.
The event on May 24 was attended by the Swedish Minister of Culture Jeanette Gustafsdotter, the President of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance Ann Bernes, representatives of the city of Malmö and the Skåne region, as well as representatives of the institutions involved in the organisation of the exhibition.
'I am particularly grateful to the Auschwitz Museum and the Musealia Company. Together with local partners in Sweden, you have created a monumental exhibition. The exhibition is profoundly moving. Seeing all the objects and listening to the stories they tell us makes it an unforgettable exhibition. I am sure it will be an impactful experience for every visitor, especially for the thousands of students,' said Minister Jeanette Gustafsdotter
'For me, my role model was my father. In 1943, when the German government decided to deport Danish Jews, a rescue operation was launched. Crossing the Sund in fishing boats, my father and many others transported Jews to safety in Sweden. He did not observe events passively but reacted and acted,' the minister added
Auschwitz Museum Director Dr. Piotr M. A. Cywiński said that the exhibition shows the history of the Auschwitz concentration camp and extermination centre in a broad context: 'This can help, particularly the younger generation, to understand the mechanisms that led to the tragic events in Auschwitz over 80 years ago. In today's exceptional situation, the message of this exhibition becomes even more critical, as it also helps to understand the many references and comparisons of the history of Auschwitz to contemporary tragedies and dramas. If World War II is a reference point for us Europeans to what we observe in the media nowadays, we can comprehend why the Holocaust became a reference point after the war for so many Jewish families who experienced acts of antisemitism.'
'In today's world, as we see the return of cruel war scenes in Europe, where Russia has invaded innocent Ukraine, in which we also see unpleasant symptoms of racism, antisemitism and the influence of ideologies of hatred, Auschwitz must remain a clear warning sign. This sign must lead us all to reject the temptation of indifference, increase moral concern in all of us, and work for a more just, peaceful and human world,' he stressed.
'Before the pandemic, the number of visitors to the Auschwitz Memorial from Scandinavia was as high as 100,000 per year. However, many more people will never be able to visit the Memorial for various reasons. The exhibition in Malmö is a unique opportunity to encounter this history, and it will be the only presentation of the exhibition in Scandinavia,' said Musealia CEO and exhibition director Luis Ferreiro.
'We are here to tell a unique story - a very difficult one, but a necessary one - about how such a place as this could have come about. It is only by making sense of our past that we can deeply understand our present,' he added.
The exhibition "Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away." was created in collaboration between Musealia and the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum. The curators of this unique exhibition are international experts: Dr. Robert Jan van Pelt, Dr. Michael Berenbaum, and Dr. Paul Salmons, who worked closely with historians and curators from the Auschwitz Museum Research Centre headed by Dr. Piotr Setkiewicz.
The exhibition depicts the successive stages of the development of Nazi ideology and describes the transformation of Oświęcim, an ordinary Polish town where Nazi Germany established the largest concentration camp and extermination centre during the occupation, where approximately one million Jews and tens of thousands of people of other nationalities were murdered.
The victims of Auschwitz also included Poles, Roma and Sinti, Soviet prisoners of war and other groups persecuted by Nazi ideology, such as people with disabilities, asocials, Jehovah's Witnesses and homosexuals. Furthermore, the exhibition includes objects portraying the world of the perpetrators - the SS men who created and managed this largest German Nazi concentration and extermination camp.
The public in Malmö can see several hundred items, mainly from the Auschwitz Memorial Collection, on an area of nearly 1,500 square metres. These include personal items belonging to the victims, such as suitcases, glasses and shoes. The exhibition will also include concrete posts forming part of the Auschwitz camp fence; fragments of the original barrack for prisoners in Auschwitz III-Monowitz; a desk and other items belonging to Rudolf Höss, the first and longest-serving commandant of Auschwitz; a gas mask used by the SS; and a lithograph depicting a prisoner's face by Pablo Picasso.
Additionally, the exhibition features individual objects on loan from more than 20 institutions, museums, and private collections worldwide, including Yad Vashem, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Wiener Library, and the Buchenwald Mauthausen and Sachsenhausen and Westerbork memorial sites.
Through the cooperation of the exhibition's creators with local museums, the exposition has been enriched with objects and stories showing local connections, emphasising the importance of the history of Auschwitz for the residents of Scandinavia. These include the story of Danish Jews fleeing to Sweden, the Swedish diplomat Raul Wallenberg, who rescued Jews in Hungary, and the relief operation for concentration camp prisoners commissioned by the Swedish government in spring 1945 known as the "white buses".
The presentation of the exhibition "Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away. "in Malmö is possible through institutional cooperation between the city and the Skåne region and the involvement of the Forum for Living History as an educational partner. In Sweden, the exhibition is presented thanks to local partner Nordic Exhibitions.
A rich cultural programme will accompany the presentation of the exhibition in Sweden. It will include lectures, talks and other events where survivors and experts get to share their insights on the history of Auschwitz and the Holocaust. Thousands of schoolchildren have also been invited to participate in the educational programme and will be able to visit the exhibition free of charge.
The exhibition "Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away." can be seen in Sweden until the end of September. For more information, visit auschwitz.net.