It’s an era that continues to be heartbreaking and horrifying — and history that must never be forgotten.
A new exhibit “Auschwitz — Not Long Ago. Not Far Away” opens Friday, March 24 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley. The world-wide traveling exhibit makes its only West Coast stop at the library until Aug. 13.
Related: Columnist Dennis McCarthy speaks with curator of “Auschwitz — Not Long Ago. Not Far Away”
“Unfortunately, we live in a world where the Holocaust has become more relevant with time, not less,” said Michael Berenbaum, the curator of a traveling exhibition, speaking to columnist Dennis McCarthy in February. “So, we had to create something that was timeless and, unfortunately, provocatively timely,” he said.
“Even our title is a scandal,” he added, “because it’s saying ‘Not long ago, not far away.’ We should live in a world where Auschwitz is far away and long ago. Where it’s ancient history and should have repulsed people enough that the world would never go near that again.
Auschwitz was the largest of all the German Nazi concentration and extermination camps. On its website, the Memorial and Museum of Auschwitz-Birkenau says that more than 1.1 million people were murdered there between June 1940-January 1945. It is estimated that about six million Jews were murdered between 1941-45 during the Holocaust, also termed Shoah.
“Although the history of Auschwitz is challenging, we have developed this exhibition not only with profound respect for the victims, but also for our visitors,” says the website for the exhibit.
The Reagan Library exhibit includes more than 700 small items owned by the murdered victims, documents, artifacts from the Auschwitz site in Poland and an original Model 2 freight train car used for the deportation of Jews to concentration camps.
The recommended minimum age is 12 for this exhibit. Admission is by timed date and must be purchased in advance. Admission $29.95; $26.95 ages 62 and older; $22.95 ages 11-17; $19.95 ages 3-10.
The exhibit is a collaboration between Musealia and the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum.
“People get emotional and take their time going through the exhibit,” Berenbaum said. “There’s a quiet, deep respect you see on their faces. You don’t enter an exhibition on Auschwitz lightly.
“You can’t say ‘never again’ because genocide has occurred again and again. But you can say ‘not on my watch, not with my acquiescence, and not without me paying attention and caring about it.’”
Details on the exhibit and to purchase tickets: bit.ly/3ZnnHW1) Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum is located at 40 Presidential Drive, Simi Valley. www.facebook.com/RonaldReagan; www.reaganfoundation.org
Columnist Dennis McCarthy contributed to this report