Auschwitz Falling Apart

Ha’aretz reports Auschwitz is crumbling, disappearing, not so slowly, into the earth. Visitors now walk on bits of exposed bone and the infamous exhibits of human hair, shoes, etc., are being destroyed by mildew:

…[Auschwitz director Piotr] Cywinski is acutely aware of the deficiencies of the museum but is constrained by money and the physical limitations imposed by the scale of the site.

Various grandiose ideas – including one for a giant dome – have been rejected on grounds of cost and because any major construction would destroy some of the area and alter it.

Smaller-scale enclosures to protect the buildings would be possible, but even these would be expensive and would have to be agreed by all the groups that protect the site.

"Tens of millions of dollars, more, would be needed to do all the work," said Cywinski. But money is not the main problem: the Polish government has provided large sums and there are a number of international donors.

Time itself is the enemy, eroding the site and its contents.

"Conservationists are like doctors: we can extend life, but not for eternity," said Cywinski, who opposes any suggestion that decaying original artefacts should be replaced by copies.

Faded and frail, two tonnes of hair shorn from victims is piled up in one cell block: once blonde plaits, black pony-tails and auburn curls, it is gradually decaying and now looks like grey wire wool.

The museum has had more luck with its 80,000 shoes, mostly odd. Chief conservationist Rafal Pioro and his staff of 38 invited school children to help clean and polish some of them.

But there are so many, most still have to be stored in a warehouse without air-conditioning. Slowly, most are falling apart.

"The work is endless and painstaking and can be heart-rending," said Pioro. "When we were working on the children’s shoes, some of us were crying all the time."

Workers at Auschwitz are struggling to slow the ageing of the camp and keep it as a lesson on the evils of anti-Semitism.

They aim, in the words of a plaque near the gas chambers, to keep Auschwitz as "a cry of despair and a warning to humanity".…

How far should humanity go to preserve this most horrific part of our history? How much money should be spent? Cywinski now has a staff of 260 workers. Should he have more?

I think the answer is yes. Auschwitz needs to be preserved at almost any cost.

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “Auschwitz Falling Apart

  1. YUGUY

    People deny the Holocaust WITH the existence of Auschwitz as it is. If we lose this memorial, or copy anything, more doubters will claim that the Holocaust is a Jewish Fabrication. Its a tragedy.

  2. Aharon Varady

    If Auschwitz was only a lesson on the evil of anti-semitism then it’s preservation is in vain. Auschwitz is a lesson in the dangers of hatred, conformist impulses allied with romanticism, nationalism, and messianism, eugenics, xenophobia, homophobia, anti-communism, homophobia, and anti-semitism. Especially anti-semitism, in the context of western civilization — but if it was only this, then it would not be relevant for the whole world as a banner for the educating the necessity for tolerance and diversity.

  3. Honor those who died in the Holocaust by spending the money on current victims of genocide.

  4. Honor those who died in the Holocaust by spending the money on current victims of genocide.

  5. Yochanan Lavie

    Before the Islamofacists started Holocaust denial, they started temple denial. The waqf ripped up the remnants of Bayit Sheini, and now they are claiming there was never a Jewish Temple on Har Habayit. We cannot let Auschwitz go the way of the Temple Mount.

    About romanticism: romantic nationalism with its “Blut und Boden” (blood & soil) ideology is pernicious. But Romantic poetry, such as Blake, Wordsworth, Keats, Shelley and Byron is life-affirming. It is also inspired by Tehillim (as the poets acknowledge). As an English major, I couldn’t let that pass unremarked.

  6. In Latvia, there is a holocaust memorial at Salaspils- an empty field surrounded by thick woods. Unlike Auschwitz, in Salaspils the Nazis and their Latvian collaborators succeeded in razing the camp.

    The crematories, smokestacks, barracks, and fences are all gone. Yet the memory remains. A monument decalres “Here, the ground weeps.”

    Allowing the Auschwitz buildings to naturally deteriorate would also be a powerful symbol of a world that has yet to eradicate antisemitism, and all too eager to forget about this recent tragedy.

  7. YUGUY

    In Latvia there is a Holocaust museum that few, if any, people unaffiliated with the atrocities of the Holocaust know about. In auschwitz, there is a memorial that few people have not heard about. Do you see a difference already?

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