On 24 January, an exhibit on the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp opened in the lobby of the United Nations Headquarters in New York, marking the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the camp. The exhibit, entitled “Auschwitz: The Depth of the Abyss,” will be displayed for six weeks, and comprises two main sections: a selection of photos from the Auschwitz Album; and sketches by Zinovii Tolkatchev, drawn at the time of the liberation of the Majdanek and Auschwitz camps.
The Auschwitz Album is unique. Using more than 200 photos, it documents the arrival and processing of an entire transport of Jews from Carpatho-Ruthenia (a region annexed in 1939 to Hungary from Czechoslovakia) at Auschwitz-Birkenau in May 1944. These rare photos provide both moving and painful documentation of the entire process - arrival, selektion, confiscation of property and preparation for the murder - except for the gassing itself. For more about the Auschwitz Album click here.
Private Zinovii Tolkatchev was present at Majdanek shortly after the camp was liberated (July 1944). Soon afterwards he joined the troops that arrived at Auschwitz (January 1945). During this period, Tolkatchev produced the “Majdanek,” “Auschwitz” and “The Flowers of Auschwitz” series of drawings. Immediately after the war, Tolkatchev’s drawings were published as albums and exhibited extensively throughout Poland, winning wide public acclaim. To see an online exhibition of Tolkatchev's work click here.
The Auschwitz Album and some of Tolkatchev’s drawings will be part of the display in the new Holocaust History Museum at Yad Vashem, due to open in March 2005. The exhibit at the UN was curated by the Museums Division of Yad Vashem, in cooperation with the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and will be opened by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, Israel’s Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, Nobel Laureate Professor Elie Wiesel and Chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate Avner Shalev.