Museum of Jewish Heritage Reopening with Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away. extended to May, 2021




Uniform worn by Marian Kostuch, held as a Polish political prisoner. Kostuch was born on June 8, 1922, in Bieżanów. His occupation was listed in camp records as “tanner.” © Musealia

Update ~ January 27, 2021 is designated by the United Nations General Assembly as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Check here for commemorative events at the Museum.

The Museum of Jewish Heritage reopened its doors to the largest and most extensive exhibition on Auschwitz ever presented in the United States, featuring more than 700 original objects and 400 photographs ~ Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away on September 13, 2020.

“First and foremost is the safety of our visitors and our employees,” says Jack Kliger, President & CEO of the Museum. “As people venture out again seeking educational experiences in safe public places, museums such as ours are uniquely qualified to welcome them back. We also recognize that many people had purchased tickets to see Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away. before it was due to close this year and are pleased to announce that we have arranged for the exhibition to remain with us through May 2, 2021.”

At the end of this post, safety precautions, new museum hours and ticketing information can be found.

Below, we begin with the arrival of the exhibition, Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away in May, 2019.

The Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust will reveal a shofar – a ram’s horn, the special wind instrument used during Jewish High Holiday religious services that was hidden and blown in the Auschwitz concentration camp 75 years ago and never before presented in public view – at a news conference on Monday, September 23, 2019. Museum leaders, a descendant of the survivor who inherited the artifact, and religious leaders will come together to display the artifact. The shofar will join the more than 700 original objects and 400 photographs in the groundbreaking exhibition.

Star of David Necklace Made by Manci Rubinstein in Auschwitz  Margit (Manci) Rubenstein made this Star of David necklace from material taken from the lining of her shoes and shoelaces while imprisoned in Auschwitz (1944). Credit line: Collection of the Museum of Jewish Heritage. Gift of Sugar siblings in memory of Rosenfeld & Schwartz families. Image courtesy Museum of Jewish Heritage

In advance of the exhibition, a freight car used by the Deutsche Reichsbahn (German National Railway), one of 120,000 built between 1910 and 1927, arrived downtown, greeted by the Museum, Survivors, and a great deal of press.  The freight car will be on view in front of The Museum of Jewish Heritage throughout the exhibition. Below are images of its arrival and placement on the track in front of the Museum courtesy of Anat Gerstein, Inc.

Arrival of freight car on March 31st. Image courtesy of Jeff Simmons, Executive Vice President, Anat Gerstein, Inc.

For the first time, 74 years after the liberation of Auschwitz, a traveling exhibition dedicated to the historical significance of the camp will be presented to a U.S. audience. The exhibition’s opening on May 8 marks the anniversary of VE Day or Victory in Europe Day, 1945, when the Allies celebrated Nazi Germany’s surrender of its armed forces and the end of World War II.

Image courtesy of Jeff Simmons, Executive Vice President, Anat Gerstein, Inc.

Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away. traces the development of Nazi ideology and tells the transformation of Auschwitz from an ordinary Polish town known as Oświęcim to the most significant Nazi site of the Holocaust—at which approximately 1 million Jews, and tens of thousands of others, were murdered. Victims included Polish political prisoners, Sinti and Roma, Soviet POWs, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and those the Nazis deemed “homosexual,” “disabled,” “criminal,” “inferior,” or adversarial in countless other ways. 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.

Arrival of freight car. Image courtesy of Jeff Simmons, Executive Vice President, Anat Gerstein, Inc.

The Museum of Jewish Heritage has incorporated into the exhibition more than 100 rare artifacts from its collection that relay the experience of survivors and liberators who found refuge in the greater New York area. These artifacts include: Alfred Kantor’s sketchbook and portfolio that contain over 150 original paintings and drawings from Theresienstadt, Auschwitz, and Schwarzheide; the trumpet that musician Louis Bannet (acclaimed as “the Dutch Louis Armstrong”) credits for saving his life while he was imprisoned in Auschwitz; visas issued by Chiune Sugihara, a Japanese diplomat in Lithuania often referred to as “Japan’s Oskar Schindler”; prisoner registration forms and identification cards; personal correspondence; tickets for passage on the St. Louis; a rescued Torah scroll from the Bornplatz Synagogue in Hamburg; and dreidels and bullets recovered by Father Patrick Desbois in a Jewish mass grave in Ukraine.

Posts and barbed  wire at Auschwitz I Photo by Pawel Sawicki © Auswch itz Birkenau State Museum. Images ‘Auschwitz Today’ courtesy Museum of Jewish Heritage

Also on display from the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, the Museum of Jewish Heritage collection, and more than 20 other lending institutions, will be hundreds of personal items (e.g., suitcases, eyeglasses, and shoes) that belonged to people murdered in Auschwitz and to people who survived. Concrete posts that were part of the fence of the Auschwitz camp; an original barrack; a gas mask used by the SS; drawings by Alfred Kantor and David Olère. Heinrich Himmler’s SS dagger and helmet and his annotated copy of Hitler’s Mein Kampf, as well as an anti-Jewish proclamation issued in 1551 by Ferdinand I that was given to Hermann Göring by German security chief Reinhard Heydrich on the occasion of Göring’s birthday. The proclamation required Jews to identify themselves with a “yellow ring” on their clothes. Heydrich noted that, 400 years later, the Nazis were completing Ferdinand’s work. These artifacts stand as evidence of a chapter of history that must never be forgotten.

Arrival of freight car. Image courtesy of Jeff Simmons, Executive Vice President, Anat Gerstein, Inc.
Image courtesy of Jeff Simmons, Executive Vice President, Anat Gerstein, Inc.

The exhibition features artifacts and materials—never before seen in North America—on loan from more than 20 institutions and private collections around the world. In addition to the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum and the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, participating institutions include Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, Auschwitz Jewish Center in Oświęcim, the Memorial and Museum Sachsenhausen in Oranienburg, and the Wiener Library for the Study of the Holocaust and Genocide in London.

Survivor Ray Kaner and her husband Leon. Image courtesy of Jeff Simmons, Executive Vice President, Anat Gerstein, Inc.

Above, Ray Kaner, holocaust survivor ~ below, Dr. Ruth Westheimer on Sunday, March 31, 2019, for the arrival of the freight car.

Dr. Ruth Westheimer speaking with press today. Image courtesy of Jeff Simmons, Executive Vice President, Anat Gerstein, Inc.

Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away. was conceived of by Musealia and the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum and curated by an international panel of experts, including world-renowned scholars Dr. Robert Jan van Pelt, Dr. Michael Berenbaum, and Paul Salmons, in an unprecedented collaboration with historians and curators at the Research Center at the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, led by Dr. Piotr Setkiewicz.

Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away. will be presented in the symbolic, hexagonally-shaped building at the Museum of Jewish Heritage. This 18,000 square foot exhibition will introduce artifacts and Holocaust survivor testimony through 20 thematic galleries. At the conclusion of this presentation, the Museum will debut its new permanent core exhibition.

Throughout its presentation of Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away. the Museum will host a series of related public, educational, and scholarly programming, featuring world-renowned experts on the Holocaust. The Museum will also expand its work with students in the tri-state area and introduce complementary educational tools for in-class and onsite use.

Chiune Sugihara helped thousands of Jews flee Europe by issuing Japanese transit visas ~ such as this one for Jakob Goldin, accompanied by his wife Roza and daughter Isabella. Credit: Gift of Isabella Goldin Weinberg. Museum of Jewish Heritage, NY

Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away. will be on view from May 8, 2019 and extended through May 2, 2021 at Museum for Jewish Heritage, 36 Battery Place, Battery Park City, NYC. The Museum of Jewish Heritage ~ A Living Memorial to the Holocaust is the primary resource in the tri-state area for teaching and learning about the Holocaust and is the third largest Holocaust museum in the world.

Barrack from Auschwitz III-Monowitz Labor Camp, 1942. Also known as Bunn, Auschwitz III-Monowitz was a concentration camp where slave labor was integrated into the Nazis’ policy of extermination. Centro de Exposiciones Arte Canal, Madrid, 2017 ©Musealia

Under the new system, the Museum will be open three days per week rather than the previous six days, and with limited hours: Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays from 10 AM to 5 PM. The first two days – on Wednesday, September 9 and Thursday September 10 will be for members only, and the general public can begin visiting again on Sunday, September 13.

General admission, timed-entry tickets purchased online in advance will allow access to all Museum galleries and be available at a limited capacity – at 25% of the Museum’s previous capacity – to maintain proper social distancing. On the other days, the Museum will deep clean all public spaces.

The Museum is developing protocols to comply with City and State guidelines to ensure the health and safety of visitors and employees, including limiting capacity in the galleries to ensure social distancing, timed admission tickets that must be purchased online, and requiring all visitors and staff to wear masks.

Additionally, floor markers and other signage will be placed throughout the facility to direct visitors on how to maintain social distancing. Hand sanitizer stations will be available throughout the Museum. Masks will be provided to any visitor who does not have one.

Visitors will be encouraged to use their own smartphones and earphones to access the Auschwitz exhibition’s audio guide (which is available in eight languages), though the Museum plans to have earphones available for purchase, as well.

The Museum’s highly regarded restaurant, Lox at Cafe Bergson, operated by David Teyf’s Madison and Park Hospitality Group, initially plans to offer only take-out and delivery. Museum visitors will be welcome to order food and sit outside in the Museum’s patio or in one of the beautiful adjacent park areas. Indoor dining will be considered at a later time.

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Artificial Intelligence is preserving our ability to converse with Holocaust survivors, even after they pass away. Visit the 60 Minutes Site for more on the USC Shoah Foundation.