NEW YORK (FOX 5 NY) - The largest exhibition ever in North America on Auschwitz will open next week at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Battery Park.
Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away. features 400 photographs and 700 artifacts that include the clothing and shoes of victims, barracks prisoners slept in, and the desk of a notorious SS officer.
The name of the exhibit is fitting, as it opens in New York at a time when the Anti-Defamation League says anti-Semitic hate crimes have more than doubled across the country, and in the wake of two deadly synagogue shootings.
"People in houses of worship are actually getting killed and murdered, so this is particularly appropriate—appropriate is not the right word—this is the time," said Bruce Ratner, the chairman of the board of the museum.
The exhibit debuted in Madrid at the Muselia, where it was seen by 600,000 people. Already tens of thousands of tickets have been sold in New York.
"Auschwitz did not start with the gas chamber, the gas chamber was only the final phase of a very long process," said Luis Ferreiro, the director of the Muselia who helped assemble the New York exhibit.
Curators sought to convey to visitors the long history of anti-Semitism, which is rooted in hatred.
"It all started with hatred," said Pawel Sawicki, who is the spokesperson for the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum in Poland, and also contributed to the New York show.
"When people will come to this exhibition, our natural feeling is to have this connection with the victims," he said. "We also need to remember in this world today, most of us are bystanders and there comes responsibility with this."
The exhibit is particularly meaningful for Holocaust survivors. Ray Kaner was sent to Auschwitz when she was 11 and survived three camps. Most of her family was killed.
"I'm glad others will see it, but I as a person saw much worse," Kaner said.
What does she hope visitors will take away from the exhibit?
"I want people to take away that there is really no place for hate, bigotry, anti-Semitism," Kaner said.
"Everyone has a right to live his own way, and people should not be killed for no reason."
The exhibit opens to the public on May 8 and runs through Jan. 3, 2020. Timed reservations are required. Admission is free for New York City public school students.
Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away. | Museum of Jewish Heritage | 36 Battery Place, New York, NY 10280 | 646-437-4202 | mjhnyc.org