HOW TO DISPLAY THE HOLOCAUST

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015

“What’s always concerned me is, where do they have their sandwiches? Do they take pictures of each other there? Are they smiling? Do they hold hands? Nothing is appropriate.” – History Boys

Upon watching History Boys today (for the millionth time) and looking through past photos of travels to Berlin and Krakow, I got to thinking about my experience of visiting concentration camps, and how to write about them. That is not speaking from fear of political correctness, if the recent events at the Charlie Hebdo are to teach anything, it is that political correctness, however important, is not mandatory. With that said, when asked how Sachsenhausen and Auschwitz were, there was no right way to answer. Good? Enjoyable? Of course not. But a simple “interesting” wouldn’t quite suffice either. However, in my opinion, Sachsenhausen was eloquently and empathetically displayed, with simple information labels to not detract. Auschwitz, on the other hand, had fell short on the concerns expressed in History Boys. As an inevitably growing tourist attraction, if that is the right term, its overcrowding had been attempted to be resolved by scheduled and restricted tours. These were perhaps not restricted enough, as it continued to feel like a tourist attraction, even as a reconstructed representation of the original site, very much detracting from the emotion intended to evoke. But of course, any negative ‘reviews’ of Auschwitz seem wrong, making this post irrelevant, but something to think about.

IMG_0097_2

Auschwitz, 2014

291996_10151134528164626_1992764767_n

Sachsenhausen, 2012