Sights in Oświęcim
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In the centre of the town of Oświęcim, the excellent Auschwitz Jewish Center approaches the Holocaust from another angle, with permanent exhibitions building up a picture of Oświęcim’s thriving Jewish community in the years before WWII. While the restored synagogue (1913), archive photos and Judaica found beneath the town’s Great Synagogue in 2004 are much less harrowing than the camps’ displays, trying to reconcile the family portraits here with the museum’s ranks of mug shots quickly brings home the realities of what happened. It’s hard to forget you’re looking at the last remnants of Polish Jewry, an all-but-exterminated culture.
The name Auschwitz often describes the whole Auschwitz-Birkenau complex. In 2007, its Unesco world heritage listing was changed from ‘Auschwitz Concentration Camp’ to ‘Auschwitz-Birkenau: German Nazi Concentration & Extermination Camp (1940–45) ’. Both Auschwitz and Birkenau are open to the public as the State Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau. The museum’s visitors centre is at the entrance to the Auschwitz site.