Holocaust Center for Humanity Museum: Objects from Auschwitz
A custom tour to Jewish heritage sites in Poland, prepared by MIR, will take travelers to Auschwitz to carry Holocaust artifacts back to Seattle.
An accordion that brought a little cheer to Dachau inmates, a Star of David cut from the clothing of a Jew who lived in Nazi-occupied territory, and a blanket from Auschwitz that five prisoners had to share: the Seattle Times listed these as being among the everyday objects from the Holocaust that will be exhibited at the nearly completed Holocaust Center for Humanity Museum, opening in Seattle in October, 2015.
In July, five more artifacts will be arriving from Auschwitz, transported by travelers on a journey sponsored by the Holocaust Center for Humanity, and partially operated by Seattle’s MIR Corporation. When the Center formally asked Krakow’s Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum if it would donate an artifact to the Seattle museum, the directors replied that they would rather donate five. The Seattle organization is still in the dark about what the items will be, and won’t find out until the tour group arrives to prepare them for shipment.
The Holocaust Center for Humanity has been planning the new museum for several years; it will be the first in the Pacific Northwest. Up until now, the center has occupied two rooms filled with books, boxes and documents. Its staff and volunteers provide teaching resources to schools and organizations, as well as speakers who survived the Holocaust themselves or were personally affected by it.
These volunteer speakers go to schools and tell their harrowing personal stories of surviving the camps – and of their loved ones who didn’t survive – to inspire young people to learn more and to commit to a more peaceful and tolerant world. The museum will be taking over this task from the survivors, who are inexorably growing older and will someday be gone.
As part of this learning process, the center’s annual tour explores the Jewish heritage of Warsaw and Krakow, in Poland; some of the participants continue to Jerusalem. In Warsaw, travelers visit the remains of the Jewish ghetto, as well as Treblinka, one of Nazi Germany’s main extermination camps. They pay a visit to Warsaw’s recently opened Museum of the History of Polish Jews, commemorating the 800-year history of the vibrant Jewish community in Poland, not only the final tragic years.
In Krakow, they tour Auschwitz, a place whose name is inextricably linked to horror and genocide. While they are there, they’ll help to pack the five artifacts that played small parts in the lives of prisoners, bringing them to Seattle, where they can remind museum-goers about the human impact of intolerance and hatred.
MIR’s Director of Sales, Joanna Millick, will be leading the custom tour to her home country of Poland, where as a child she was deeply influenced by its Holocaust history. Joanna has volunteered at the center since her arrival in the U.S. in 2001, and led their first tour to Holocaust sites in Poland, when they traced the childhood and wartime life of a Seattle Holocaust survivor.
(Top photo: The “Gate of Death,” through which trainloads of Jews entered the Nazi extermination camp, Birkenau, in Poland. Photo credit: Polish National Tourist Board)
PUBLISHED: June 23, 2015