Loaned Holocaust Barracks will Return to Poland

The Guardian reports that for over two decades and long negotiations, the half of a barrack in Auschwitz that was on loan to the United States has been returned to Poland.

The building was one of the main items at the US Holocaust in Washington. Washington wanted the lease for the building to be extended; but, Poland asked for it back after they adopted new regulations in 2003. These regulations limited the loan of all historical and art works for a maximum of five years. This led to years of negotiations between museums, the US and Polish government that finally ended in October. The Holocaust Museum finally agreed to return the portion of the barracks.

The Auschwitz-Birkenau museum stated on their website that the wooden structure had arrived at the Baltic port Gdynia on December 29th. The barracks are said to go undergo conservation efforts and will rejoin the other half in Birkenau. The restoration process may take up to three years, according to the deputy director of Poland’s Memorial and Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau.

The effort to reassemble to barracks at the original location shows Poland’s determination to be the guardian to authenticity and integrity of the world’s largest Holocaust memorial.Barracks Number 30 is the only surviving example of the wooden barracks that was built before September 1943. The barracks was located at the “family” camp where Germans brought Jews to the Theresienstadt ghetto. This ghetto housed hospital wards for women and children. There were nearly 46,000 Jews from Theresienstad and about 20,000 were put in the family camp. The rest were located to other concentration camps or were killed in the gas chambers upon arrival.

In the years between 1940 and 1945, nearly 1.5 million people died at the hands of the Nazis inside Auschwitz-Birkenau camp alone.

Evette Champion

Evette Champion is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE