The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute is set to host a global exhibition aimed at underlining the point that the events leading up and resulting in the Nazi Holocaust in World War II were “not long ago” and “not far away.”
The traveling exhibition “Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away” arrived in California from Sweden. Created by Spanish company Musealia together with the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in Poland, the exhibition will feature more than 700 original artifacts in an exhibition space of 12,500 square feet.
The first of those artifacts arrived last week at the presidential library in the form of a German-made, World War II-era Model 2 freight car that was escorted by motorcade through Simi Valley and up Presidential Drive to the Reagan Library.
The artifact, led by more than 50 motorcycles — including those of the Patriot Guard Riders, veterans and the Simi Valley Police Department — was installed in the museum’s main courtyard. Hundreds of personal items such as suitcases, eyeglasses and shoes of the deportees will be displayed when the exhibition opens on the West Coast on March 24, 2023.
Two Auschwitz survivors, David Lenga and Joe Alexander, delivered remarks upon the arrival of the car, which took place on the anniversary of the horrific November Pogrom known as Kristallnacht 84 years ago, in which an estimated 91 Jews were killed and thousands of Jewish-owned commercial establishments, synagogues and Jewish homes were destroyed.
Prior to World War II, this type of car was used to transport food, goods and livestock — but during the war, these cars were used to transport Jews, Roma, Poles and others as part of forced resettlement and deportations to ghettos, execution sites, concentration camps and extermination centers — including Auschwitz. Up to 80 people were crammed into each car together with their belongings for the journey to hell on earth.
The West Coast debut is the first of three North American stops for the exhibition, which portrays the dark reality of the notorious Auschwitz death camp — a universal symbol of the Nazi horror.
“Concentration camp operations forever shifted the foundations and perspective of humanity and this Auschwitz exhibit ingrains in us that sinister period of time through the preservation and collection of what remains,” noted John Norman, President of World Heritage Exhibitions, which is presenting the exhibition locally.
“History, especially its darkest moments, must be remembered and learned from.”