Note No. 5914
21 January 2005
Note to Correspondents
Auschwitz The Depth of the Abyss
Exhibition Opens at Headquarters on 24 January
NEW YORK, 20 January (UN Headquarters) -- The exhibition entitled Auschwitz -- the Depth of the Abyss will open in the north-east gallery of the General Assembly Visitors Lobby on Monday, 24 January 2005, at 6 p.m., three days before the official sixtieth anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camps in Europe, 27 January. The Secretary-General, and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of the State of Israel, Silvan Shalom, will make opening remarks in a formal opening ceremony followed by a reception. The exhibit will be comprised of two parts.
The Auschwitz Album
The Auschwitz Album is the only surviving visual evidence of the process of mass murder at Auschwitz-Birkenau. The photos were taken at the end of May or beginning of June 1944, either by Ernst Hofmann or by Bernhard Walter, two SS men whose task was to take ID photos and fingerprints of the inmates. The photos show the arrival of Hungarian Jews from Carpatho-Ruthenia. Many of them came from the Berehov Ghetto, which itself was a collecting point for Jews from several other small towns.
The early summer of 1944 was the apex of the deportation of Hungarian Jewry. For this purpose a special rail line was extended from the railway station outside the camp to a ramp inside Auschwitz. Many of the photos in the album were taken on the ramp. The Jews then went through a selection process, carried out by
SS doctors and wardens. Those considered fit for work were sent into the camp, where they were registered, deloused and distributed to the barracks. The rest were sent to the gas chambers. The photos in the album show the entire process except for the killing itself.
Private Tolkatchev at Gates of Hell
With the USSR entering the war in June 1941, Zinovii Tolkatchev, a Ukrainian artist, volunteered to join the front. However, only towards the end of the war, in Autumn 1944, did army officials respond to Tolkatchevs request, and he was sent to serve in the Political Department in the First Ukrainian Front, which at the time was stationed in Lublin, adjacent to the Majdanek extermination camp. Horrified by the scenes he witnessed, Tolkatchev, in a spiritual whirlwind, immersed himself for thirty-five days, with hardly any food or sleep, in painting the Majdanek series. In it, Tolkatchevs was able to create, as if from nowhere, a set of symbols that express the horrors of the Majdanek extermination camp.
This exhibit is sponsored by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Israel and is curated by Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs and Heroes Remembrance Authority, Jerusalem. It will remain open to the public, with free admission, until 11 March 2005, Monday to Friday, from 9:30 am to 4:30 p.m. (seven days a week during March).
For more information about the exhibition, call Jan Arnesen at tel: (212) 963-8531; Liza Wichmann at tel: (212) 963-0089; Keren Tenenbaum at the Permanent Mission of Israel to the UN, tel: (212) 499-5548, or visit the web site: www.un.org/events/UNART.
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