New exhibition showcases Treblinka Holocaust findings

"Over seventy years after the events, new technologies and methods are revealing new information about what happened at the camps and we hope that the exhibition will go some way to ensuring that this important history is never forgotten."

Dr Caroline Sturdy Colls, Associate Professor of Forensic Archaeology and Genocide Investigation

The findings of a seven-year research project by Staffordshire University's Centre of Archaeology are being displayed in a new international exhibition at the site of the former Nazi extermination and labour camps in Treblinka, Poland.

Finding Treblinka: An Exhibition of Forensic Archaeological Research showcases physical evidence uncovered at both camps during a research project led by Dr Caroline Sturdy Colls.

Located within the Museum of Struggle and Martyrdom at Treblinka in Poland, the permanent exhibition provides visitors with a new history of the crimes perpetrated in both camps, where almost one million people are known to have died during the Holocaust.

It also features an outdoor exhibition at the labour camp and execution site, where archaeological investigations have shed new light on the nature of the Nazis' crimes.

The exhibitions opened on the anniversary of the 1943 Treblinka revolt, an event which saw approximately 200 prisoners escape from the extermination camp. The only remaining survivor of the extermination camp, Samuel Willenberg, attended the ceremony along with his family.

Dr Caroline Sturdy Colls who curated the exhibition along with fellow lecturers Kevin Colls and Michael Branthwaite said:“When we discovered the remains of the gas chambers in 2013, we came across a large number of objects and remnants of the Old Gas Chamber, which are now being exhibited for the first time.”

The exhibition is also accompanied by a temporary artistic installation which will run for six months. Finding Treblinka: Artists Respond represents an innovative collaboration between artists and archaeologists who have sought to find alternative ways to present scientific and historical information to a wider audience.

Curator and Senior Lecturer in Fine Art at Staffordshire University, Michael Branthwaite said: “We selected the artists after conducting a number of studio visits, and then invited them to respond to the project and new materials found.”

“The artists responses have been driven by their individual practice and concerns over how specialist scientific information can be communicated to a wider audience. It explores how we process and build histories around objects, and how science and art can come together to enhance public knowledge about sensitive and traumatic events.”

The artworks themselves range from text-based wall works to free standing sculpture. Re-appropriated objects also feature, such as a re-upholstered chair exhibiting motifs from the objects found during the excavations at Treblinka.

Dr Sturdy Colls added:“We hope that the new exhibitions at Treblinka will provide an important educational resource which will enhance public knowledge concerning the terrible atrocities perpetrated at Treblinka. Over seventy years after the events, new technologies and methods are revealing new information about what happened at the camps and we hope that the exhibition will go some way to ensuring that this important history is never forgotten.”

The artistic exhibition runs until February 2016 and the archaeological exhibition is a permanent exhibition. For more information visit the Centre of Archaeology's website.

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