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Auschwitz: Not Long Ago, Not Far Away

Vintage German rail car

Vintage German rail car

The Auschwitz exhibition at New York’s Jewish Heritage Museum is nothing short of stunning. With artifacts and ephemera from the time leading up to one of humanity’s darkest events, this exhibition manages to make each item feel very personal through the stories of the people they once belonged to.

It does not gloss over the non-Jewish victims of the Holocaust or exclude items belonging to the perpetrators of this horror. Yet none of the exhibit feels heavy-handed. Rather, once you’ve seen it all, you can then visit the museum’s Garden of Stones, a reflective outdoor setting where trees have literally grown in and through boulders. This ends a visit with hope, that no matter what we face, we can emerge from even the hardest times with faith, hope, and determination.

Posts and barbed wire from Auschwitz

Posts and barbed wire from Auschwitz

Shoe from female prisoner

Shoe from female prisoner

The Pink Triangle

The Pink Triangle

Torah from the synagogue which existed in the town of Auschwitz before the German occupation and the camp.

Torah from the synagogue which existed in the town of Auschwitz before the German occupation and the camp.

Eye color card used to classify people’s ethnicity

Eye color card used to classify people’s ethnicity

Nazi helmet, SS belt buckle, Hitler Youth bugle

Nazi helmet, SS belt buckle, Hitler Youth bugle

Ballot from Germany, showing only one choice

Ballot from Germany, showing only one choice

Prisoner handmade chess set and sardine can case, with the word “Auschwitz” carved into it.

Prisoner handmade chess set and sardine can case, with the word “Auschwitz” carved into it.

Prisoner clothing and set of bunks

Prisoner clothing and set of bunks

Handmade dreidels and bullets, found in one of the camp’s mass graves

Handmade dreidels and bullets, found in one of the camp’s mass graves

Mandalas drawn and colored by Anne Frank

Mandalas drawn and colored by Anne Frank

Of the approximately 400,000 prisoners registered at Auschwitz, nearly half were Christians.

Of the approximately 400,000 prisoners registered at Auschwitz, nearly half were Christians.

Luggage confiscated from people sent to Auschwitz

Luggage confiscated from people sent to Auschwitz

Personal possessions were taken from Jews and distributed to Germans, in a program called Kanada.

Personal possessions were taken from Jews and distributed to Germans, in a program called Kanada.

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Operating room table and medical equipment

Operating room table and medical equipment

Model of the camp

Model of the camp

The train tracks leading to the camp

The train tracks leading to the camp

Boot found at the camp, and gas chamber door

Boot found at the camp, and gas chamber door

Zyclon B cans and gas mask, found at the camp

Zyclon B cans and gas mask, found at the camp

Handmade tin engagement ring made in the Thereisenstadt ghetto before both were deported to camps. She and this ring survived; he did not.

Handmade tin engagement ring made in the Thereisenstadt ghetto before both were deported to camps. She and this ring survived; he did not.

Garden of Stones

Garden of Stones

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