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‘Forbidden Art’ unveiled to the United Nations

By: Cari DeLamielleure-Scott | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published February 4, 2015

 “Forbidden Art” includes drawings, small sculptures and figurines carved out of wood, stone or wire that were made in secret by concentration camp prisoners during World War II.

“Forbidden Art” includes drawings, small sculptures and figurines carved out of wood, stone or wire that were made in secret by concentration camp prisoners during World War II.

Photo courtesy of Marcin Chumiecki, director of the Polish Mission

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ORCHARD LAKE — Seventy years ago, the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in southern Poland was liberated by the Soviet Army.

Auschwitz-Birkenau was the largest of the Nazi German concentration/death camps, and approximately 1.1 million people were murdered there, including about 1 million Jewish people, 70,000-75,000 Polish people, about 21,000 Sinti and Roma people, and many others.

Commemorating the liberation, the Polish Mission of Orchard Lake Schools, in cooperation with the Permanent Mission of Poland to the United Nations, took the 3-ton “Forbidden Art” exhibition to the United Nations Jan. 21, where it will remain until March 10.

“Forbidden Art” depicts the hidden artistry of concentration camp victims and is considered to be the most authentic memorial of the Holocaust, genocide and terror of concentration camps. The exhibit includes modern Holocaust education in collaboration with the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, according to Polish Mission project coordinator JJ Przewozniak.

The exhibit includes drawings, small sculptures and figurines carved out of wood, stone or wire that were made in secret by concentration camp prisoners.

In 2010, the Polish Mission began an exclusive partnership with the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum of Poland and agreed to take on the “Forbidden Art” exhibit, which arrived in Orchard Lake in 2012. The exhibit has since traveled across the country, honoring Holocaust victims and survivors.

Polish Mission Director Marcin Chumiecki said in a press release that “Forbidden Art” brings the message of Auschwitz to the United States in a tangible way.

“We invite all Americans to join the international community as we remember the Holocaust in January and always. Silence can be violent, and we must be united in protecting the future,” Chumiecki said in the press release.

The exhibit is a key stone for international remembrance, and it all started in Orchard Lake, which is something of which residents in the area should be proud, Przewozniak said. In addition to the exhibit unveiling, the United Nations held a closed session on genocide prevention in the modern age.

Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum Director Piotr Cywiński went with the exhibit to the United Nations’ headquarters in New York to begin the international observances of the 70th anniversary of the liberation. Cywiński said in a press release that it is critical that Auschwitz be preserved. 

“The United Nations will be a most meaningful venue for ‘Forbidden Art’ in the United States, but it will be most especially important to the global community of survivors, many of whom will participate personally in this remarkable anniversary,” Cywiński said in the press release.

Having Cywiński in the United States to begin the worldwide observances is “truly remarkable,” Przewozniak said, because the goal of the Polish Mission and the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum is to share the message of Auschwitz through “Forbidden Art.”

“There are many organizations and institutions all over the world who are nobly dedicated to Holocaust education. The one very important common thread that we, along with all these organizations, share is we aim to shape a genocide-free future,” Przewozniak said.

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