13 April 2004
On April 15, President Moshe Katsav and Chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate Avner Shalev will attend the dedication ceremony for the new Holocaust Museum and Documentation Center in Budapest. Presiding will be Hungarian President Ferenc Madl and Prime Minister Peter Medgyessy. Also attending will be French Economics Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, who is of Hungarian descent. The two-hour ceremony will be aired live on Hungarian national television and will include extensive footage from Yad Vashem.
The centerpiece of the dedication ceremony will be the original Auschwitz Album (see below), which will be on special loan from Yad Vashem’s archive. The Album will be flown to Budapest for the ceremony, where President Katsav will place it in a protective display case. The Album will be flown back soon after the ceremony, and it will be displayed in Yad Vashem’s new Holocaust History Museum (opening March 15, 2005). The central exhibit at the Holocaust Museum and Documentation Center in Budapest is based on the Album.
The ceremony will also feature a special broadcast of an interview at Yad Vashem with Hungarian-born Auschwitz survivor Dina Eckerman, who is pictured in the Auschwitz Album. Mrs. Eckerman is interviewed at the inscription commemorating her childhood community in Carpatho-Ruthenia in the Valley of the Communities (a 2.5-acre monument dug out of natural bedrock on Yad Vashem’s 45-acre campus, listing thousands of Jewish communities that were destroyed or barely survived in the Holocaust). The broadcast incorporates an enlargement of the original photo from the Auschwitz Album, which shows her and her twin sister upon arrival at Auschwitz.
The Holocaust Museum and Documentation Center, which will showcase photos, artwork and artifacts, is located in a former synagogue in downtown Budapest. The renovated synagogue was built in 1923, was transformed into a factory during the Holocaust, and was later abandoned.
The dedication ceremony will also include footage from the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
About the Auschwitz Album
The Auschwitz Album is the only surviving visual evidence of the process of mass murder at the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp. Its two hundred photos document the process of arrival, selection, confiscation of property, and preparation for the liquidation of the people in a Jewish transport. This transport came from Carpatho-Ruthenia (a region annexed in 1939 to Hungary from Czechoslovakia) and arrived at Auschwitz-Birkenau in May 1944. These rare photos provide moving and painful documentation of the entire process, except for the killing itself. The Album eventually fell into the hands of a survivor of that same transport, who donated the Album to Yad Vashem. The original Album is now kept in Yad Vashem’s archive. Its contents and explanatory text (including the names of many pictured deportees) have been published in The Auschwitz Album: The Story of a Transport (Yad Vashem and Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, 2002) in English and Hebrew (the Hungarian edition is forthcoming).
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About the Holocaust Museum and Documentation Center
For more information on the Holocaust Museum and Documentation Center in Budapest, please visit http://www.hdke.hu.