Never forget: Holocaust museums and memorials around the world

Here at Gadling, our goal is to introduce readers to travel ideas that are relevant. While we strive to find the new and the cool, we realize that some journeys must occasionally lead us to confront difficult episodes in our past, whether on a personal or global scale.

Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day, designated by the United Nations in 2005 to mark the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp on January 27, 1945. As we get further away from the Nazi atrocities of World War II and as we lose more Holocaust survivors to old age, a day to commemorate the Holocaust becomes ever more important.

During college, as I was considering a career as a Holocaust historian, I interned as a research assistant at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) in Washington, DC, one of the most comprehensive collections of Holocaust artifacts and documents in the entire world. My job was to transcribe video testimonies from Holocaust survivors, in particular men and women who had lived in the Jewish ghettos of Warsaw, Riga, and Vilnius. Watching those films and, indeed, encountering documents, photos, and memorabilia from the Holocaust on a daily basis brought home to me the significance of the mission of the USHMM and other Holocaust museums throughout the world.

While the best way to fully understand the magnitude of the Holocaust is to visit Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen, Dachau, Sachsenhausen, or any of the other concentration camps in Central and Eastern Europe, museums and memorials in numerous cities and countries around the world serve to educate young and old and ensure that we never forget those who perished or the ones who lived to tell their stories. Take some time to reflect on this Holocaust Remembrance Day with this gallery of some of the world’s most renowned Holocaust museums and memorials.


Photo: USHMM

“Arbeit macht frei” Auschwitz sign stolen

Poland’s grimmest monument has lost its most famous icon.

The sign at the entrance to the Auschwitz concentration camp, “Arbeit macht frei” (“Work will set you free”) was stolen in the early hours of this morning.

The Polish government and Jewish groups have condemned the theft. There are no known suspects at this time and the motive is also unknown. Some Jewish groups have blamed unnamed neo-Nazi groups but none have claimed responsibility. And while there is a large and lucrative black market for stolen historical objects, such a recognizable piece would be very difficult to sell, although thefts of famous artifacts have been commissioned before.

The sign stood at the entrance to Auschwitz, one of the most notorious concentration camps set up during the Nazi regime. Located in occupied Poland, its executions, forced labor, and gas chambers sent about one million people to their deaths. Most of the victims were Jews, but Gypsies, political prisoners, and others were also killed.

The main question at the moment is how the thieves managed to cut down a sixteen-foot long iron sign and haul it away without any of the patrols of security cameras noticing them.