AP

German Train Car Arrives in New York for Auschwitz Exhibit

Mar 31, 2019, 9:42 PM | Updated: Jun 8, 2022, 5:12 pm
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 13: Atmosphere, exterior of Jewish Heritage Museum where Henry Kissinger And Charlie Rose Mark The 70th Anniversary Of VE Day at Museum of Jewish Heritage on May 13, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Steve Mack/Getty Images)
(Photo by Steve Mack/Getty Images)

NEW YORK (AP) — On a Sunday morning, a crane lowered a rusty remnant of the Holocaust onto tracks outside Manhattan’s Museum of Jewish Heritage — a vintage German train car like those used to transport men, women and children to Auschwitz and other Nazi death camps.

The windowless boxcar is among 700 Holocaust artifacts, most never before seen in the United States, which are being prepared for one of the largest exhibits ever on Auschwitz — a once ordinary Polish town called Oswiecim that the Nazis occupied and transformed into a human monstrosity.

The New York exhibit opens May 8, the day in 1945 when Germany surrendered and the camps were liberated.

German-made freight wagons like the one in the exhibit were used to deport people from their homes all around Europe. About 1 million Jews — out of a total of 6 million who perished in the Holocaust — and nearly 100,000 others were gassed, shot, hanged or starved in Auschwitz.

That fate awaited them after a long ride on the kind of train car that’s the centerpiece of the New York exhibit.

“There were 80 people squeezed into one wooden car, with no facilities, just a pail to urinate,” remembers Ray Kaner, a 92-year-old woman who still works as a Manhattan dental office manager. “You couldn’t lie down, so you had to sleep sitting, and it smelled.”

She and her sister had been forced to board the train in August 1944 in occupied Poland, after their parents died in the Lodz ghetto where Jews were held captive.

The Germans promised the sisters a better new life.

“We believed them, and we schlepped everything we could carry,” she said. “We still had great hope.”

Once in Auschwitz, “they took away whatever we carried,” and prisoners were beaten, stripped naked and heads shaved bald.

Titled “Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away,” the upcoming exhibit will transport visitors into the grisly faceoff between perpetrators and victims.

On display will be concrete posts from an Auschwitz fence covered in barbed and electrified wires; a gas mask used by the SS; a desk belonging to Auschwitz commandant Rudolf Hoss; and a dagger and helmet used by Heinrich Himmler, the chief architect of Hitler’s “final solution.”

The collection of prisoners’ personal items includes a comb improvised from scrap metal; a trumpet one survivor used to save his life by entertaining his captors; and tickets for passage on the St. Louis, a ship of refugees whom the United States refused to accept, sending them back to Europe where some were killed by the Nazis.

The materials are on loan from about 20 institutions worldwide, plus private collections, curated by Robert Jan van Pelt, a leading Auschwitz authority, and other experts in conjunction with the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in Poland and Musealia, a Spanish company that organizes traveling shows.

The New York one will run through Jan. 3.

The eight-decade-old box car brought to New York on a cargo ship came from a German auction, in terrible condition. Van Pelt’s team bought it and restored it.

“The dark, smelly car represents that moment of transition from the world of the living that people understood and trusted to the radically alien world of the camps where the doors opened and families were separated forever,” said van Pelt, whose relatives in Amsterdam lived down the street from Anne Frank’s family.

“The Nazis wanted to wipe out every last Jew in the world,” and at the end of a train trip, “this is where the last goodbyes were said.”

The exhibit items all belonged to somebody — most now gone, either because they were murdered in camps or survived and have since died. Some people who inherited artifacts came forward with stories attached to them.

Thousands of survivors live in New York City, among the last who can offer personal testimony.

And that’s why the exhibit is important, said real estate developer Bruce Ratner, the chairman of the museum’s board of trustees.

“While we had all hoped after the Holocaust that the international community would come together to stop genocide, mass murder and ethnic cleansing, these crimes continue and there are more refugees today than at any time since the Second World War,” said Ratner. “So my hope for this exhibit is that it motivates all of us to make the connections between the world of the past and the world of the present, and to take a firm stand against hate.”
___
This story has been corrected to show the ghetto in occupied Poland is named Lodz, not Lotz.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

AP

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 08:  U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor-Greene (R-GA) holds up a poster of a Twitt...
Farnoush Amiri and Barbara Ortutay

Ex-Twitter execs deny pressure to block Hunter Biden story

Former Twitter executives conceded to Congress that they made a mistake by blocking a story about Hunter Biden, the president’s son, from the social media platform in the run-up to the 2020 election.
1 day ago
President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress at the C...
Zeke Miller, Seung Min Kim and Lisa Mascaro, Associated Press

Biden in State of Union exhorts Congress: ‘Finish the job’

President Joe Biden has exhorted Republicans in his State of the Union address to work with him to “finish the job” of rebuilding the economy and uniting the nation.
1 day ago
Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., and other Republicans gather in the House Cham...
Lisa Mascaro and Mary Clare Jalonick, Associated Press

GOP on GOP: Romney scolds Santos, ‘You don’t belong here’

Congressman George Santos' presence at the center aisle for Tuesday night's speech was met with a stern rebuke from a fellow Republican, Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah.
1 day ago
SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO - OCTOBER 22: A general view shows a locked gate at the entrance to the Bonanz...
Associated Press

Alec Baldwin wants prosecutor in on-set death case dropped

Defense attorneys for actor Alec Baldwin are seeking to disqualify the special prosecutor in the case against him stemming from the fatal shooting of a cinematographer on a New Mexico film set.
1 day ago
People try to reach people trapped under the debris of a collapsed building in Malatya, Turkey, Tue...
Mehmet Guzel, Ghaith Alsayed, Suzan Fraser and Zeynep Bilginsoy, Associated Press

Hope fading as deaths in Turkey, Syria quake near 12,000

Stretched rescue teams in Turkey and Syria are searching for signs of life in the rubble of thousands of buildings toppled by a catastrophic earthquake.
2 days ago
FILE: Powerball and Mega Millions lottery tickets are displayed on January 3, 2018 in San Anselmo, ...
Associated Press

Lucky player in Seattle suburb wins $754.6M Powerball prize

A single winning ticket for a $754.6 million Powerball jackpot was sold at a department store in a Seattle suburb, Washington state lottery officials said Tuesday.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

vintage photo of lighting showroom featuring chandeliers, lamps, wall lights and mirrors...
Lighting Design

History of Lighting Design | Over 25 Years of Providing Utah With the Latest Trends and Styles

Read about the history of Lighting Design, a family-owned and operated business that paved the way for the lighting industry in Utah.
Fiber Optical cables connected to an optic ports and Network cables connected to ethernet ports...
Brian Huston, CE and Anthony Perkins, BICSI

Why Every Business Needs a Structured Cabling System

A structured cabling system benefits businesses by giving you faster processing speeds and making your network more efficient and reliable.
notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 Reasons You May Want to Consider Apartment Life Over Owning a Home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
German Train Car Arrives in New York for Auschwitz Exhibit