Historic Section of Concrete and Wire Fence Line – from the Infamous Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp – Are First Artifacts Placed for Upcoming Union Station Holocaust Exhibition
Kansas City, MO – May 12, 2021 – Four massive, original concrete posts along with barbed and high-voltage wire used as fencing to surround and divide the Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp are the first of over 700 artifacts installed as part of the touring exhibition, Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away., presented by Bank of America.
Originally used to prevent prisoners from escaping Auschwitz, these historic and imposing posts stand over 13 feet tall. High-voltage electric and barbed wire guaranteed their effectiveness, along with SS Guards trained to shoot any inmate who came near the fence.
“Today, these artifacts – along with others – serve as visual symbols of death camps created during World War II by Nazi Germany,” George Guastello, president and CEO, Union Station said. “They also stand to remind and warn the world that these human atrocities happened not long ago and not far away.”
The four massive concrete posts are original artifacts from the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum. Established in 1947 thanks to the efforts of survivors, the Museum preserves the two largest parts of the concentration and extermination camp complex: Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II-Birkenau totaling some 500 acres with 155 historical buildings and about 300 ruins, including the ruins of gas chambers and crematoria. In addition to the unique collections and surviving fragments of the post-camp archives, these relics – including the fence line section -- represent a tangible, lasting trace of the tragedy of one million three hundred thousand people, mainly Jews, but also Poles, Roma and Sinti, as well as Soviet prisoners of war and many others.
“The Auschwitz space, including the authentic and exhibition space, cannot simply be approached from a historical perspective,” Dr. Piotr M. A. Cywiński, Director, Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, said. “This is because it is not just a historical narrative. It is a story about people, about their possibilities, limits, endurance, or human choices in situations beyond imaginable extremes. It is a story about humans. It is about the victims of those times and the cruelty of the perpetrators, but it is also a powerful warning to us, the post-war and present-day generations. Thus, it is the only way one can comprehend the profundity of the cry "Never again." Undoubtedly, one can leave an exhibition such as the one on display in Kansas City more historically informed. That in and of itself is of some value. However, one can also leave it with a sense of moral anxiety, an enormous obligation to take and accept responsibility for the world around us - both the near and distant. For we are all one humanity.”
Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away. will open on June 14, 2021 and explores the dual identity of the camp as a physical location—the largest documented mass murder site in human history—and as a symbol of the borderless manifestation of hatred and human barbarity. The exhibit features more than 700 original artifacts and 400 photographs, many of which have never been publicly available. The story will unfold across Union Station’s expansive 20,000 sqf Bank of America Gallery and introduce objects and survivor testimony through 20 thematic galleries. Audio guides will be available and included with admission.
Once again, Bank of America – the presenting sponsor – continues their tradition of bringing stories and histories of great importance to local, regional and national audiences who visit Union Station. And pre-opening tickets have already been secured by guests from 38 different States in anticipation of this unique and profoundly important presentation.
All admission tickets are offered on a reserved date and time basis and are currently available only at Union Station’s Ticket Office or online at unionstation.org.
ABOUT Union Station Kansas City -- a 501(c)3 non-profit organization -- is a 107-year-old historical landmark and celebrated civic asset renovated and reopened to the public in 1999. Recently awarded “Favorite Attraction”, “Favorite Family-Friendly Attraction” and “Favorite Historic Attraction”, the organization -- dedicated to science education, celebration of community and preservation of history -- is home to Kansas City’s internationally-awarded Science City; the new Arvin Gottlieb Planetarium; the Regnier Extreme Screen Theatre; the popular Model Railroad Experience; City Stage featuring live theater, and a selection of unique shops and restaurants. Union Station is also home to prominent area civic organizations and businesses, and regularly hosts world-class traveling exhibitions. Awarded “Top Banquet Facilities in KC” by KC Business Journal, the facility annually hosts hundreds of community events and private celebrations of all sizes. Visit WWW.UNIONSTATION.ORG for details. Also, follow us on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, INSTAGRAM, and YOUTUBE.
Musealia is a Spanish-based global producer of large-scale historical exhibitions that are presented at museums and education centers all over the world. Its vision is to create and manage exhibitions that are distinguished by a strong narrative character, historical rigor, emotional impact, and educational value.
ABOUT THE AUSCHWITZ-BIRKENAU STATE MUSEUM
Fulfilling the wish of survivors, on July 2, 1947, the Polish parliament created the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum on the site of two preserved parts of the former German Nazi camp: Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II-Birkenau. The Memorial today includes an Archive and a Collections department, and undertakes research, conservation, and publishing activities. It is, above all, an education center that teaches visitors about the history of Auschwitz and the Shoah. More than 2 million people visited the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in 2018.
Artifacts and images from dozens of institutions and private collections from around the world will be on view at Union Station. These sources include:
Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, Oświęcim
Auschwitz Jewish Center, Oświęcim
Buchenwald Memorial, Weimar
Canadian War Museum, Ottawa
Christian Schad Museum, Aschaffenburg
Czartoryski Museum and Library, Kraków
Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin
Ghetto Fighters’ House Museum, Kibbutz Lohamei Hagetaot
Hartheim Castle Education and Memorial Centre, Alkoven
Holocaust Center for Humanity, Seattle
House of the Wannsee Conference, Berlin
Imperial War Museum, London
Institut für Zeitgeschichte, Munich
Institute of National Remembrance, Warsaw
Jewish Historical Museum, Amsterdam
Jewish Museum of Greece, Athens
Mauthausen Memorial, Mauthausen
Memorial and Museum Sachsenhausen, Oranienburg
Memorial Centre Westerbork, Hooghalen (The Netherlands)
Montreal Holocaust Museum, Montreal
Naval History and Heritage Command, Washington, D.C.
NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Amsterdam
Slovak National Archives, Bratislava
Terezín Initiative Institute, Prague
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, D.C.
Wiener Library for the Study of the Holocaust and Genocide, London
Yad Vashem, Jerusalem