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June 13, 2013

New exhibit in Block 27 at Auschwitz has been opened by Netanyahu

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , — furtherglory @ 10:09 am

One of the followers of my blog made a comment in which he included a link to a news article about a new exhibit that has just gone up in Block 27 at the main Auschwitz camp.

My 1998 photo of Block 27 in the main Auschwitz camp

My 1998 photo of Block 27 in the main Auschwitz camp

Block 27 is located on the first street that intersects the main camp street, as you enter through the “Arbeit Macht Frei” gate into the Auschwitz main camp. Turn to your right on this street and go past the camp kitchen to find Block 27.

I saw the displays in Block 27 on my first trip to Auschwitz in 1998.  I honestly don’t remember much about about it, since I saw so many of the displays in the barracks of the main camp that day. It was a bit overwhelming, but I did manage to take a photo of the exterior of Block 27, which is shown above.

This quote is from the news article:

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has opened a Holocaust exhibition at the Auschwitz Nazi death camp site in southern Poland.

The display in Block 27 places the former camp in the broader context of Nazi Germany’s systematic attempt to wipe out Europe’s Jewish population.

It is being overseen by Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust institute.

I have never visited the Holocaust Museum at Yad Vashem in Israel, but photos of it, that I have seen, show that it is far more glitzy than your average museum.  I am assuming that the displays in Block 27 will now be more spectacular than the displays in the old version.

Interior of Yad Vashem

Interior of Yad Vashem

This quote is from the BBC news article:

The new permanent Shoah exhibition has replaced the dilapidated one that was installed in 1960s communist-era Poland.

It is an impressive, powerful exhibition. Upon entering a darkened room a prayer can be heard. The next room displays a panorama of slides and video of pre-war Jewish life in Europe. One room is devoted to Nazi ideology, showing video of speeches by Hitler and Goebbels. A map points out the numerous Jewish extermination sites across Europe. One of the most moving displays highlights the 1.5 million Jewish children murdered by the Nazis. An art installation reproduces their pencil drawings made during the Holocaust on stark white walls.

There is also a Book of Names, running to 58 volumes, which aims to list all the names of the six million Holocaust victims. Finally, there is a room for visitors to sit and reflect upon the horrors they have just seen.

Note that the new exhibit “has replaced the dilapidated one that was installed in the 1960s communist-era Poland.”   When I saw Block 27 in 1998, I was told that the displays, that I was now seeing, had been put up AFTER the fall of Communism.  So apparently, this new exhibit is the third exhibit in Block 27, not the second one.

I didn’t take any photos of the interior of Block 27 in 1998, but my impression was that all the displays in the former Auschwitz barracks put heavy emphasis on the Polish resistance movement, and in keeping with this theme, there was a special section on the second floor of Block 27, which was devoted to the Jewish resistance to the Nazis, both inside the camp and on the outside. According to the information given in Block 27 in 1998, Jewish partisans fought with the Polish Home Army, known as the Armia Krajowa or Polish AK, and also organized resistance on their own.

When I was there in 1998, there was a small white memorial stone to the Jews who had been gassed. The stone is shown in my photo of Block 27 above. This was the only memorial stone, that I saw, which was specifically dedicated to the Jews, and did not include the other groups that were targeted by the Nazis.

7 Comments

  1. We just came back from visiting Block 27 about “Shoah,” the Jewish Holocaust. You and the BBC’s article are mistaken.
    1. As defined at Block 27 (and by Bauer, academic advisor at Yad Vashem), Shoah was the systematic attempt to annihilat THE JEWISH PEOPLE, and not ‘Europe’s Jewish population.’
    2. ‘The next room displays a panorama of slides and video of pre-war Jewish life in Europe’ AND Jewish life in European North Africa (France’s territories of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Italy’s Libya, in North Africa.
    3. The map shows POLITICAL Europe, “the European nations and its colonies,” as Hitler himself defined ‘Europe.’ The persecution and deportations of the Jews in French and Italian North Africa are an integral part of the Shoah in France and Italy, respectively.

    4. Contrary to what was stated by Yad Vashem, a visit at Block 27 is NOT part of the official visit of Auschwitz, and one MUST make a PRIVATE tour from Krakow to include a visit of Block 27.

    Truth and accuracy are vital when researching and informing about this tragic event.

    Edith Shaked
    Board Member, H-Holocaust

    Comment by Edith Shaked — June 27, 2014 @ 8:14 am

    • The words “Europe’s Jewish population” are words from the news article, on which I based my blog post. The words in Block 27 might have been changed since I visited this block in 1998.

      I had a private tour guide when I visited Auschwitz in 1998. I arranged for this private guide from a tour company in New York City; my private guide was not Jewish.

      You wrote: “Truth and accuracy at vital…” Some of the facts about Auschwitz have changed since I first visited in 1998. At that time, there were no tours to the Auschwitz II camp, which was all grown up in weeds. I had to hire a private (Jewish) guide and a taxi driver to take me to the Auschwitz II camp.

      Comment by furtherglory — June 27, 2014 @ 11:37 am

      • Adam Easton, BBC reporter was wrong; here a link to a better article: http://culture.pl/en/event/new-permanent-exhibition-at-auschwitz-birkenau

        Comment by Edith Shaked — June 27, 2014 @ 3:21 pm

        • Thanks for the link to this information. There is nothing in the description of the new museum about the Jewish resistance. It was my impression, back in 1998, that the Jewish resistance was very extensive.

          The description of the new exhibit mentions only the victims, not the Jews who fought back. Has there been a change in the whole theme of the museum?

          Comment by furtherglory — June 28, 2014 @ 9:38 am

          • There has been a BIG change, for the better in the NEW blog 27 – I am planning to write an article about it with photos. For the moment I am busy because I start to teach summer session tomorrow. Edith

            Comment by Edith Shaked — June 28, 2014 @ 12:54 pm

  2. There’s an article on CNN regarding a diary of Alfred Rosenberg showing Robert Kempner’s sticky fingers. Just a suggestion for a blog entry.

    Comment by Question everything — June 13, 2013 @ 11:56 pm

    • Thank you very much for telling me this. I had not heard about it yet. I am looking into it now. I will write about it as soon as I can.

      Comment by furtherglory — June 14, 2013 @ 8:12 am


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