Thursday, March 10, 2011

Auschwitz museum revises its exhibits

KZ - Sachsenhausen

One for your history teachers discussing how presentations of history can change.  The museum at Auschwitz is changing the exhibits, which were originally devised by former camp inmates.  Read about the changes, and the why, in this article from the New York Times: Auschwitz shifts from memorializing to teaching, by Michael Kimmleman.

Shoes, Auschwitz

The article begins:

OSWIECIM, Poland — For nearly 60 years, Auschwitz has told its own story, shaped in the aftermath of the Second World War. It now unfolds, unadorned and mostly unexplained, in displays of hair, shoes and other remains of the dead. Past the notorious, mocking gateway, into the brick ranks of the former barracks of the Polish army camp that the Nazis seized and converted into prisons and death chambers, visitors bear witness via this exhibition.

Now those in charge of passing along the legacy of this camp insist that Auschwitz needs an update. Its story needs to be retold, in a different way for a different age.

Partly the change has to do with the simple passage of time, refurbishing an aging display. Partly it’s about the pressures of tourism, and partly about the changing of generations. What is the most visited site and the biggest cemetery in Poland for Jews and non-Jews alike, needs to explain itself better, officials here contend.

the gas chamber in Auschwitz I

I've never been to Auschwitz, so to illustrate this blog entry I went to Flickr and searched for Creative Commons licensed images to use; which is what all the ones here are (click on any image to go to its Flickr location/photographer's photostream, where you will find larger versions; I used the Small size for them here).  There is also a Flickr group for Auschwitz photos.  Another idea to suggest to your history teachers, when they are seeking images to illustrate particular historical topics: chances are for many many historical sites, ancient or modern, someone's been there, photographed them and uploaded their images to Flickr.  The images here are the gateway (Work makes you free), the shoes of inmates, the gas chamber and the monument at the site.

Monumento ad Auschwitz

Two ideas in one blog entry! Double value today!




Unknown_Sister said...

Great post!

Rachael said...

Thanks for this article. I have yet to summon up the courage to visit some of these sights, but I am alos deeply interested in how Germans represent their own history to the coming generation as well. I have not begun to talk to my two older children about Nazism yet, and the evils of that regime.
I am waiting on a paperback by Julian Dierkes, which compares the Japanese and German "connections" to their history.

If you like, I can let you know when I've received and read the book.

With kind regards,