Auschwitz: Not long ago. Not far away.

Kansas City hosted one of only two stops for this exhibit in the United States.

Jeremy and I took our parental units, and my dad’s girlfriend to the exhibit as part of their Christmas gift.

The tour was at once heartbreaking, terrifying, and incredibly moving.

I’m not going to try to review the whole experience.  I just thought I would share some of the stories and moments that really moved me.

This is a Tallit, a prayer shawl that belonged to a couple that were engaged shortly before being sent to Auschwitz.  The shawl is unusual to see here, because they are supposed to be buried with their owner.  The owner, Solomon Krieser died at the concentration camp.

A father went ahead of his family with all their belongings to establish a new home for them.  Before he could get the family to Palestine, they were murdered at Auschwitz.

A prisoner’s uniform at Auschwitz. The symbol on the pocket represents the prisoner’s crimes.

This is the coat worn by Dr. Georg Renno.  Known for killing psychiatric patients he was transferred to Asuschwitz to prepare patients for the gas chamber. 

This was the bunk bed removed from one of the barracks at the camp. An actual full size barrack from the Auschwitz-Monowitz satellite camp was also on display.

This was a handmade doll.  Probably made by a prisoner from a camp blanket.  The maker risked their life, as a sewing needle was not allowed for prisoners.

This was a whip used by German Kapos who were given “great license: in how they treated Polish prisoners.”

This was a medical bed where Dr. Mengele performed some of his “medical experiments.”

There was an area dedicated to Anne Frank including registration cards for Otto and Anne, a postcard from the Franks to Otto’s sister, and a recipe book from Otto’s spice company.

To avoid panic, the Nazis told prisoners they would be showered and deloused (in reality they would be killed in the gas chamber) they were told to strip and to leave their clothes on numbered hooks so they could find them after the shower.  This little boy’s shoe still had the sock stuffed in it, waiting for his return.

These are a gas mask and tin used to hold Zyklon-B.  The pest control chemical used to kill prisoners at Auschwitz.

The column was a chamber where Zykon-B was lowered into a gas chamber.  The hoe looking device was used to pull the created remains out of the gas chamber through a door that you can see here.  A peep hole and a fake shower head were also part of the display.

Some people may not realize it was not just Jewish people, it was political dissidents and homosexuals.  The pink triangle, one of the many symbols of gay pride, came from the tattoos placed on those the Nazi party deemed homosexual.  According to the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, “An estimated 10-15,000 men who were accused of homosexuality were deported to concentration camps. Most died in the camps, often from exhaustion. Many were castrated and some subjected to gruesome medical experiments. Collective murder actions were undertaken against gay detainees, exterminating hundreds at a time.”

There is an episode of The Amazing Race where contestants spent time at Auschwitz, one of the contestants, Uchenna made the comment, “What came to mind was all the books that never got written, all the ideas that were never tried, all the relationships that never got to grow, I mean generations were murdered. It’s actually a good thing that they have not destroyed or taken down Auschwitz, You can’t forget that, God forbid it should ever happen again.”

We also took time to visit Kansas City’s Memorial to the Six Million. It sits on the campus where a tragic event happened in 2014.

1,500,000 people were killed at Auschwitcz. Some 30,000 bullets were used to murder people at the camp.  After the shootings the Jewish Council received a bill to pay for the used bullets.

If you are interested in visiting the exhibit, check out their website.  The exhibit closes on January 31st.

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