Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Poland pressures US to return Holocaust monument

After more than twenty years on loan to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C, Polish officials are demanding the return of a barrack that formerly housed Jewish prisoners at the Nazi extermination camp in Auschwitz-Birkenau, Poland. At issue lies the fragility of the structure, the transportation of which, Holocaust museum officials stated to the Associated Press, “presents special difficulties, including potentially damaging the artifact.”
The barrack, currently on display at the Washington museum, falls under a 2003 Polish law that requires the return to Poland every five years, at least temporarily for inspection, of historic objects of cultural significance.
By refusing to return an object on loan, the Holocaust Museum could face challenges in the future when requesting loans from other institutions. The loaning of objects is a vital component of museum success and inter-museum relations. In addition, museum loans allow members of the public who might otherwise never see a particular work of art or culturally significant artifact, such as the Auschwitz barrack, access to that object, if only for a brief period of time.
Although Holocaust museum officials surely feel a moral duty to take the necessary steps to prevent damage to the barrack, their fiduciary duty to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum and to the Polish people should outweigh this sentiment.  
Originally posted by Joshua Mix on CulturalSecurity.net.

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