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Opening of the Exhibition “Architecture of Murder: The Auschwitz-Birkenau Blueprints” and Symposium Marking 65 Years since the Liberation of Auschwitz

Chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate Avner Shalev explains a display in the exhibition to Prime Minister Netanyahu as Chairman of the Yad Vashem Council Rabbi Israel Meir Lau looks on Chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate Avner Shalev explains a display in the exhibition to Prime Minister Netanyahu as Chairman of the Yad Vashem Council Rabbi Israel Meir Lau looks on
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On Monday, January 25, 2010, a new exhibition marking the 65th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, “Architecture of Murder: The Auschwitz-Birkenau Blueprints”, opened at Yad Vashem in the presence of the diplomatic corps and the Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu.

On display are original architectural blueprints of Auschwitz-Birkenau. The exhibition displays original plans of structures in Auschwitz-Birkenau that were mostly prepared in the fall of 1941. The plans were found in 2008 in an abandoned apartment in Berlin and purchased by the German media corporation “Axel Springer”, the publisher of the newspaper “Bild”. They were given to Prime Minister Netanyahu on August 30, 2009, and will be preserved for perpetuity in Yad Vashem.

After the inauguration of the new exhibition a special symposium marking the 65th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz was held in the presence of dozens of members of the diplomatic corps, Holocaust survivors, including survivors of Auschwitz, Minister of Education Gideon Saar, Minister Yossi Peled, Deputy Minister of Pensioner Affairs Dr. Lea Nass, Ambassador of Cameroon in Israel and Dean of the Diplomatic Corps H.E. Henri Etoundi Essomba, Chairman of the Yad Vashem Council Rabbi Israel Meir Lau and Chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate Avner Shalev. Present at the ceremony as well were Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum Director Dr. Piotr Cywinski, Chief Editor and Publisher of the newspaper “Bild” of the Axel-Springer group Kai Diekmann, Chairman of the Friends of Yad Vashem in Germany Ms. Hildegard Müller, members of the Yad Vashem Directorate, a delegation of the Canadian Society for Yad Vashem lead by the National Chair of the Canadian Society Mrs. Fran Sonshine.

Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu said:

“It may seem to some that because there are remaining witnesses to a crime, that the historical memory is preserved. That is not true, and history can be twisted out of shape a lot faster than you think, and certainly over a slow period of time it can be destroyed beyond recognition. Therefore the value of what is being done here is first of all to preserve historical truth. And the action that has been done here over the years by Yad Vashem has been important, first of all, for tabulating the basic evidence of the greatest crime in history. The addition of these documents courtesy of the Axel-Springer group is an important bulwark of this historical truth, because it shows in graphic detail the design of murder, the premeditation of mass murder, the execution of mass murder according to a deliberate plan. And this is a very important contribution to the body of evidence.”

Speaking at the symposium were Minister of Education Gideon Saar, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, Holocaust survivor Ruth Bondy, Professor Shlomo Avineri, Professor Moshe Halbertal, Historical Advisor to the exhibition Dr. Daniel Uziel, Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum Director Dr. Piotr Cywinski, “Bild” editor Kai Diekmann, Chairman of the Yad Vashem Council Dr. Israel Meir Lau and Chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate Avner Shalev.

Chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate Avner Shalev:

“The original plans detailing the construction of Auschwitz constitute graphic illustration of the Germans’ systematic effort to carry out the ‘Final Solution.’ We have chosen to display them to the public to illustrate how seemingly conventional activities of ordinary people brought about the construction of the largest murder site of European Jewry.”

Afterwards, a panel discussion was held, moderated by Dr. David Silberklang, editor of “Yad Vashem Studies”, on the topic “65 Years since the Liberation of Auschwitz.” Dr. Daniel Uziel, Director of the Photo Archives at Yad Vashem and the historical consultant for the exhibition, spoke about the building project at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Participating in the panel discussion were Ruth Bondy, born in Prague, survivor of Theresienstadt and Auschwitz, Professor Shlomo Avineri and Professor Moshe Halbertal. The symposium was concluded by Ambassador of Cameroon in Israel and Dean of the Diplomatic Corps H.E. Henri Etoundi Essomba.

The exhibition is funded thanks to the generous support of the Greg Rosshandler and Harry Perelberg families, Australia.