An exhibition that offers the public a glimpse into the role of faith as a mechanism for survival during the Holocaust, opened at the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum on Monday, July 1. The exhibition, “Through The Lens of Faith,” was arranged and organized by the Amud Aish Memorial Museum founded in New York which was founded by the Jewish philanthropists and businessman Elly Kleinman and works to present the experiences of Holocaust victims and survivors and how faith helped them persevere. “Through The Lens Of Faith” will continue through 2020 to coincide with the 75th anniversary of the death camp’s liberation by the Soviet Union’s Red Army.
World-renowned architect Daniel Libeskind, whose previous projects include the Jewish Museum Berlin and a renovated Ground Zero, helped design the exhibit that was installed on a path veering off the route leading to the Auschwitz Memorial and Museum. Providing new colored portraits of 21 Holocaust survivors was photographer and Chair of the International Center of Photography, Caryl Englander. The portraits are placed in vertical, steel panels overlaid in black glass. The vertical steel panels, each three meters high, line up on both sides of the exhibit.
The repetitive pattern of the panels is reminiscent of the stripes from a prisoner’s typical uniform, conveying a sense of internment. The exterior mirrored surfaces, however, reflect the surrounding landscape, evoking both physical and spiritual freedom. Dr. Lustiger Thaler, the chief curator of the Amud Aish Memorial Museum, interviewed each survivor. Every survivor shared their experiences in Auschwitz and how they survived through faith. The heroic accounts of each survivor are etched on their respective steel panels.
Rabbi Sholom Friedmann, Director of Amud Aish Memorial Museum said: “This exhibit is unique as it not only focuses on the victims, but it introduces the role that faith played in these survivors experience. Faith enabled these victims to persevere in spite of the hell they were subject to. A powerful lesson for all to learn from”. One of the supporters of the new exhibition is the Jewish Russian philanthropist, Viktor Vekselberg, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center in Moscow. The memorial is of personal significance and importance for Vekselberg with sixteen family members who were killed in the Holocaust.