The exhibition "Auschwitz. Not Long Ago. Not Far Away." in Kansas City. Luis Ferreiro awarded with the "Light of Remembrance".
On June 14th, the day which marks the anniversary of the first transport of Polish prisoners to German Auschwitz camp and specially for this occasion, at Union Station in Kansas City in the USA, the exhibition “Auschwitz. Not Long Ago. Not Far Away” was inaugurated, prepared by the Auschwitz Memorial and the Spanish company Musealia. During the inauguration ceremony Luis Ferreiro, Director of Musealia, was awarded with the “Light of Remembrance”, the most important distinction of the Auschwitz Memorial.
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 some1 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 exhibition, based on hundreds of authentic artifacts, with the most of them coming from the Collections of the Auschwitz Memorial, makes its visitors realize how important it is nowadays to reflect on the responsibility for the world we live in and it refers mainly to those who have not had the opportunity to come to the Museum themselves. The propaganda of German Nazis coincided with the frustration in German society. Today we experience difficult times as well and at any time, some expression of xenophobia, racism, antisemitism, or hatred in general, may too easily get out of our control”, said Dr. Piotr M. A. Cywiński, Director of the Museum, who took part in the inauguration of the exposition.
"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.
“Everyone who sees this exhibit will see something that will stay with them. For me it was a little shoe with a sock tucked inside. A little boy placed it there, so he would have it when he came back. That little boy would now be in his 80s. Where would he be today? What would he have done with his life? He would have grandchildren now. I can’t forget that little shoe and sock. It stays with me.”, said Ronald S. Lauder, Chairman of the US-founded Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial Foundation and President World Jewish Congress.
“Union Station is a visual symbol and important space within Kansas City. Exhibitions that we host are of particular importance for preserving our history and mission and our voice is strong. Presenting the “Auschwitz. Not Long Ago. Not Far Away” to our vast and diversified community is one of the greatest honours that we can imagine”, said George Guastello, President and Director General of Union Station.
“Hundreds of thousands of American soldiers passed by Union Station on their way to the fronts of two world wars. After the wars, the building witnessed numerous comebacks and reunions. After WW2 we helped in welcoming Holocaust Survivors in their new home, right here, in the Midwest. Our history is full of humility and honour”, he added.
During the inauguration of the exhibition, Director Cywiński awarded Luis Ferreiro with the “Light of Remembrance”, the greatest distinction of the Auschwitz Memorial for the most meritorious individuals in the field of education about Auschwitz and the Holocaust.
“Luis Ferreiro achieved the unusual thing – he has built the biggest travelling exhibition devoted to Auschwitz in history. It was presented in Madrid, then in New York and today, on June 14th, it was opened in Kansas City. The number of visitors in these three locations will probably exceed one million. It shows the great educational potential of the events that take place not only at the Memorial, but also over the world, outside the authentic space of the former camp all. This is a great project from this point of view and the exhibition constitutes as well one of the biggest educational programs dedicated to the history of Auschwitz in the last decades”, said Piotr Cywiński.
“Great involvement, sensitivity and dedication of Luis Ferreiro fully justify the granting of this award. I am personally pleased by the fact that we are awarding this distinction to the representative of a much younger generation than previous recipients of the award”, he emphasized.
The “Light of Remembrance” has so far been awarded to: Professor Władysław Bartoszewski, Krystyna Oleksy, Avner Shalev, Serge Klarsfeld and Sara J. Bloomfield
On almost 2 thousand square meters the visitors of Union Station will be able to see hundreds of artifacts from the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum including 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.
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.
The exhibition “Auschwitz. Not Long Ago. Not Far Away” was created by Musealia in cooperation with the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum. Curators of this unique exposition are world-class experts: Dr. Robert Jan van Pelt, Dr. Michael Berenbaum and Paul Salmons, who cooperated closely with historians and curators from the Auschwitz Museum Research Center led by Dr. Piotr Setkiewicz.
The exhibition won the Grand Prix of the European Heritage Award / Europa Nostra 2020 Award. It is the most prestigious European distinction in the field of heritage. The project also won the second place in the Public Choice Award.
The exhibition “Auschwitz. Not Long Ago. Not Far Away” is available for visitors at Union Station in Kansas City until January 22nd 2022.