Oshpitzin: The Town Known As Auschwitz Unveiled



This late 19th century photo was most likely taken at the groundbreaking of the rebuilding of the Oświęcim Great Synagogue. The synagogue was destroyed by fire in 1863 and was reopened between 1870 and 1872.

Today, Jan. 27, marks both International Holocaust Remembrance Day and the 72nd anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and Birkenau. The Auschwitz Jewish Center unveiled its first project with Google Arts & Culture —the online exhibition Oshpitzin: The Town Known As Auschwitz.

Through vivid photographs, compelling personal documents and curatorial insights, the exhibition tells the 400-year history of Oświęcim’s (Yiddish: Oshpitzin) Jewish community.

Young Zionists, pioneers from the Halutzim kibbutz in Oświęcim ca. 1918. Zionism came to Oświęcim in 1898 and had a significant influence on Jewish social life in the town.

Tomasz Kuncewicz, director of the Auschwitz Jewish Center, said, “This new exhibit is an important milestone in reaching out to new audiences with the local Jewish history so much overshadowed by the tragedy of Auschwitz and the Holocaust. We are proud that Google joined us in our mission to preserve the memory of Jews who lived in the Polish town of Oświęcim, before it became Auschwitz.”

An orthodox Jewish boy in front of Abraham Gross’sprinthouse in Oświęcim, 1930s

The Auschwitz Jewish Center is a subsidiary of the Museum of Jewish Heritage—A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, from the Museum’s New York City campus. It is the only Jewish presence in the vicinity of Auschwitz. The Center’s educational programs include immersive study programs on the Holocaust, pre-war Jewish life and Polish-Jewish relations. The Center opened its doors in 2000 and joined with the Museum in 2006. Located just three kilometers from the Auschwitz–Birkenau death camps, the Center provides a place for individuals and groups from around the world to pray, study, and learn about the vibrancy of Jewish culture before the war, and memorialize victims of the Holocaust. 

The exhibition can be viewed at this link: www.ajcf.pl/online-exhibition.


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