Wednesday, July 26, 2017

ROM - The Evidence Room

July 2017 - Toronto ON

As part of our visit to the Royal Ontario Museum, ROM, to see the Blue Whale I also wanted to see The Evidence Room.

This photo is from the ROM website.
Interior perspective of The Evidence Room with models of Auschwitz gas column and gas-tight hatch, plaster casts and model of gas-tight door. Photo by Fred Hunsberger, University of Waterloo School of Architecture.

Black and white photography of the Evidence Room exhibition space

I didn't take many photos as it was hard to see since the displays are white on white. There are guidebooks available in the room to help you with the exhibits.
I would definitely recommend using the guides as well as speaking to the volunteers in the room as they provided excellent insight into the models.

We haven't been to Auschwitz but did visit Terezin in the Czech Republic which was daunting enough.
Some prisoners from Terezin were sent to Auschwitz and perished.
I took our photo from Terezin and turned it into a white sketch in the spirit of this display.

In November 1944, with the Soviet Red Army approaching through Poland, Himmler ordered gassing operations to cease across the Reich. The crematorium IV building was dismantled, and the Sonderkommando were ordered to begin removing evidence of the killings, including the mass graves. However, they did not destroy the blueprints and photos used to construct the death camp.

This exhibit uses architecture to demonstrate that the Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi concentration camp was designed specifically for death.

The motivation behind the exhibit, The Evidence Room, came from a book written by van Pelt in 2002, which focused on a trial between historian Deborah Lipstadt and Holocaust denier David Irving. The latter sued Lipstadt after she called him a falsifier of history.

The motivation behind the exhibit came from a book written by Robert Jan van Pelt, a University of Waterloo architectural historian whose mother is a Holocaust survivor and whose uncle was murdered at Auschwitz. He is one of the world's foremost experts on the death camp.
The book focused on a trial between historian Deborah Lipstadt and Holocaust denier David Irving. The latter sued Lipstadt after she called him a falsifier of history.

The case later inspired the 2016 Rachel Weisz film Denial.

Information below is from the ROM - photos are mine.
The Evidence Room, constructed entirely in white, focuses on the coldly calculated architectural decisions which culminated in a factory of death. Full-scale reconstructions of three key components of the Auschwitz gas chambers—a gas column, gas-tight door, and gas-tight hatch—and over 60 plaster casts of architectural evidence, such as blueprints, contractors’ bills and photographs, speak eloquently as silent material witnesses to the horrors of Auschwitz.
A model of the camp clearly showing the gas chambers in the row on the left.

The two doors on display show that the doors opened outward. If the doors opened inward it would have made it difficult to remove the bodies after 900 people were allegedly gassed in the room at the same time.

A cast of a gas mask. Some of the displays around this are blueprints, signed and dated along with aerial photographs.

Gas chamber

At the Auschwitz camp in Poland, they conducted experiments with Zyklon B (previously used for fumigation) by gassing some 600 Soviet prisoners of war and 250 ill prisoners in September 1941. Zyklon B pellets, converted to lethal gas when exposed to air. They proved the quickest gassing method and were chosen as the means of mass murder at Auschwitz.

At the height of the deportations, up to 6,000 Jews were gassed each day at Auschwitz.

1 comment:

  1. Utterly haunting, and proof of how evil human beings can be.

    And to think, there are still those who deny it.


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