The Government of Israel decided to renovate the Jewish Pavilion at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp Museum at a special session to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
The government imposed responsibility for implementation of this decision on Yad Vashem – The Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority – from a budget that it allocated for this purpose.
In order to implement the government’s decision, Yad Vashem worked in cooperation with the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum to preserve the building and to set up a new exhibition at Block 27, which is the Jewish Pavilion at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum.
This structure was constructed in two principal stages:
At Stage I, during World War I, a basement and entrance level, and a building used as part of a refugee camp were constructed.
Between the two world wars, when Poland was independent, the building was used as a camp for a Polish artillery brigade.
As Stage II, with Himmler’s decision in 1941 to turn the site into a concentration camp, an additional floor was added to the structure as existed in most of the cabin structures at the camp.
When the Government of Poland decided to establish the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum in the 1960s, many of the cabins at the camp were allocated for exhibitions.
Block 27 was allocated for an exhibition on behalf of the Jewish people.
The first exhibition was held toward the end of the 1960s and was renewed towared the end of the 1970s.
The pavilion had not been renovated and the exhibition has not been renewed since that time. Pursuant to the decision by the Government of Israel in 2006, a completely new exhibition was planned and set up that chronologically surveys the processes that led to the Jewish Holocaust in Europe. The following subjects are displayed at the pavilion: the Jewish world before the Holocaust, Nazi propaganda, the Final Solution, survivor testimonies, the Book of Names, a meditation room and a “big questions room”.
In addition to setup of the exhibition, it was necessary to execute massive renovations and preservation work at the pavilion: renovation of the roof and façades, structural reinforcing, and preservation of original elements such as doors, windows, ladders and attics.
Sophisticated electromechanical systems were installed in the pavilion for operation of the displays and for public reception.
The project was executed by the State of Israel on Polish lands at a site that belongs to the national Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum.
The preservation and reinforcing works required close cooperation with Polish authorities; the design and construction teams were from both Poland and Israel.
During restoration of the building, historic artifacts were found that included paintings by the inmates, which were integrated into the new exhibition.
The exhibition includes audiovisual works, artistic displays as well as the Book of Names.