Situating the Holocaust in the Museum of the Second World War in Gdansk
The presentation will focus on the conceptual and visual framework of the exhibit devoted to the Holocaust in the forthcoming Museum of the Second World War in Gdansk. The exhibit is the result of a dialogue with scholars and curators from all over the world, who helped with their expertise and experience. One of the key assumptions behind this exhibition is the heavy reliance on original artifacts, photographs (especially clandestine photographs), and diaries, hence, predominantly sources created during the war. Surprisingly, the museum did not have to depend merely on loaned artifacts from other museums. Sixty years after the war ended, due to a national call for historical artifacts, we were still able to find and gather previously unknown or not publicized artifacts related to the Holocaust. The presence of the newly discovered artifacts, as well as artifacts that for the first time will be displayed to the public, allows for an approach that focuses on the perception and understanding of the situation that people had during the war while the genocide was unfolding. It shows the scope of human behaviors, its complexity and ambiguity. The presentation will also contextualize the Gdansk exhibit by juxtaposing it with the main Polish exhibits on the Holocaust—especially the section devoted to the Holocaust in the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews—and world Holocaust exhibits, such as the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and Yad Vashem.
Anna Muller is assistant professor of history at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. From 2010-13, she worked for the Museum of the Second World War (in Gdansk) as a curator responsible for the sections on concentration camps, the Holocaust, and eugenics. Her book on the life of women in prison cells in post-war Poland, titled If the Walls Could Speak, will appear in 2017 with Oxford University Press.