I visited the Holocaust Museum in Washington for the first time in 1997. I was invited by Miles Lehrman, who was the chairman of the museum at this time.
This is a unique institution and a unique exhibition. In one place, for a relatively short time, you can learn almost everything about the Holocaust – from the origins of anti-Semitism to the recently captured criminals.
The museum is the U.S. government agency. This shows how much importance the U.S. administration attaches to the memory of the crime and to the process of teaching about it. The official name is “United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.” It is located on the route of all trips to Washington, and so several million people visit it every year.
The museum is perfectly organized, with great care for the documentation and what is important is that it has the records and copies of exhibits. One of the few authentic exhibits that has been famous for a few days is the “barrack from Birkenau.”
Dozens of these barracks are falling apart all the time in Birkenau, and this one piece in Washington actively educates visitors about the Holocaust and, in my opinion, shows that Poles also take care of this remebrance (besides, the whole museum is very correct in this regard).
And here we have a war. On one side there is the brave director Cywiński (the director of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum), who has apparently lost his mind and instead of thinking how to leave this bunk and a few boards in Washington, decided to get it back. He is supported by others saying that “we will not give in to blackmail”, and that “the law in Poland means the law”! On the other in turn there are the ghosts from our recent past, when it was fitting to condemn us for the existence of so-called “Polish concentration camps”. Shame …
I remember the days when Miles Lehrman, together with Leszek Miller initiated the construction of a unique monument at Belzec, where hundreds of thousands of Jews were murdered, including the family of Miles. They are probably feeling embarrassed by the current situation. Lehramn somewhere in the skies, and Miller in Warsaw cannot stop wondering how simple things can cause such a war.
I urge the Minister of Foreign Affairs Radek Sikorski, to deal with this matter personally. The time has come to use the suitable instruments to close the conflict quickly and forget about it.
Of course the barrack should stay in Washington.
PS By the way. Americans (along with several other countries), generously donated tens of millions of dollars on so-called perpetual fund which is to generate the necessary measures to protect the Auschwitz-Birkenau. But more about that another time…Author : Marek Siwiec MEP