North Adams museum exhibit commemorates liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp

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NORTH ADAMS — People around the world gathered this week to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the liberation of prisoners at the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland.

And although there are still Nazi sympathizers who deny the Holocaust, many more are set on reminding the world every year that the possibility of another such period still exists.

One of them set up his own commemorative exhibition of Holocaust memorabilia Wednesday in the North Adams Museum of History. Darrell English has been exhibiting his collection at local venues for years. Every year about this time, he brings out his collection to give people a closer look at the killings, the rise of fascism in Europe and the aftermath.

Six million Jews were killed during the Holocaust, along with 11 million others — such as Romas, ethnic Poles, Soviets and gays — by Adolf Hitler and his Nazi regime.

Lawrence and Kathleen Mowe of North Adams stopped in to the museum get a closer look at artifacts such as a death camp prisoner uniform, the stars that Jews had to wear on their clothing, and still photos of prisoners of the Nazis.

"I wanted to see some of the artifacts," Kathleen Mowe said. "It gives you a whole different slant — you can see for yourself that these were people just like us with houses, families, children who were ripped out of their homes and killed because of their faith. It's an eye opener."

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"To be killed for who you are is basically what it was," added Lawrence Mowe. "It's crazy, but it really happened. It's part of our history and we have to share it: never again."

English, with his encyclopedic knowledge about the Nazi death camps and how they operated, has visited classrooms and other venues to educate folks about the Holocaust. Wednesday, 14 students from two schools, one in Bennington, Vt., and another in the town of Florida, stopped in to the museum to see the presentation.

English said educating people about the nightmare of the Holocaust is essential and should be expanded formally into school curricula. He noted that soon, there will be no more eyewitnesses to the horrors, and all that will remain are the artifacts and their stories.

"It's among the most important things right now because of the historical ripples we're still wrestling with 75 years on," English said. "We never want to see this repeat itself, but if you don't show some of these things, how do you reinforce it? These are the shadows of what's left from the past."

English and his exhibition will be back at the museum, on Main Street inside the Holiday Inn, from 1 to 5 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday.

Scott Stafford can be reached at sstafford@berkshireeagle.com or 413-629-4517.


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