Polish museum fights to preserve memory of Auschwitz

Auschwitz was the largest of the Nazi death camps. The Third Reich gassed more than 1 million Jews in this network of concentrations camps in occupied Poland.

“To forget would be not only dangerous, but offensive,” wrote Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel in his book “Night,” a work based on his experiences in Auschwitz. “To forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time.” 

The Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum has raised more than $124 million of a $156 million endowment dedicated to preserve the memory of Auschwitz perpetually. The museum hopes to raise the remaining funds by Jan. 27, 2015, the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the camps.

“We have to be sure that it’s not just Jews remembering this,” said Piotr M.A. Cywiński, director of the museum, in a March 12 meeting with representatives of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. “The Jewish people remember it as victims. But for Christians, it’s something else.”

Auschwitz-Birkenau is the largest remaining holocaust memorial site and the burial ground for more than 1 million victims. Prisoners built the Birkenau camp buildings and much of the grounds have deteriorated.

“It is my contention that the tragedy engenders a spirit of community,” Cywiński said.

Father Alexei Smith, head of the archdiocese's Office for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, has seen local communities come together through different events, like the recent priest-rabbi dialogues and the annual Catholic-Jewish Women’s Conference.

“We can never forget and it can never be repeated,” Father Smith said.

Among the museum artifacts are 39,000 negatives and thousands of photographs, 3,800 suitcases, 260 prayer garments and 90 pounds of eyeglasses. In 2012, nearly 1.5 million visited the memorial site — most were teenagers.

“There is only one thing worse than Auschwitz itself,” said Henry Appel, a survivor. “And that is if the world forgets there was such a place.”

—J.D. Long-Garcia

 

To learn more, including how to become one of the “18 Pillars of Remembrance,” visit www.preservememory.org.


Voices

Seeking the face of God in the Scriptures

Archbishop José H. Gomez

Prayer is seeking the face of God. The Catechism of the Catholic Church recalls the story of how St. John Vianney once found a peasant praying in front of the Blessed Sacrament. The saint asked him what he was doing, and the man replied: “I look at him and he looks at me.”

Events

February 2016
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat

February 14, 2016

  • Sunday, February 14

    Mother Cabrini Library and Chapel Open House, 9 a.m. - 1 p.m., 3801 Scott Road, Burbank. The event is hosted by the Los Angeles Region.

     

    Italian Catholic Club of SCV Valentine's Day Dinner Dance, 7 p.m., Our Lady of Perpetual Help (Parish Hall), 23233 Lyons Ave., Newhall. Come enjoy a delicious gourmet buffet dinner and dance the night away to the music of Linda Pippin. Wear your favorite red dress, shirt and/or tie. All adults (single or married) are welcome. Tickets are $35 each (prepaid), or $45 at the door. Please call Anna Riggs at (661) 645-7877 to reserve your spot by Feb. 10.

     

    Stations of the Cross, 2 p.m. Calvary Cemetery, 4201 Whittier Boulevard, East Los Angeles. Continuing each Sunday of Lent. For more info, please call Calvary Cemetery: 323-261-3106.

     

    Year of Mercy Mass and Pilgrimage in The Shrine of St. John Paul II, 3 p.m., Our Lady of the Bright Mount Church, 3424 W. Adams Boulevard, Los Angeles.  Mass celebrated in English with Fr. John Paul Gonzalez of Christ the King Church.  Mass will be followed by Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and confession, with Divine Mercy Chaplet.  The closing prayer will be a blessing and veneration of the 1st class relic of St. John Paul II.  

    South Bay Catholic Co-ed Adult Softball League Pre-Season Practice Games, McMaster Park, 3624 Artesia Blvd., Torrance.  Must RSVP to Fred Lawler (League Commissioner) at (310) 504-0271 or fredlawler@hotmail.com.

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