The exhibit, which is traveling the country on loan from Poland’s Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, includes a set of 31 posters featuring photos of the horrific conditions at the death camp.
A group of diplomats, lawmakers, historians and activists came out to the opening. Blending into a crowd is a short, blonde woman wrapped in a teal scarf. She is 74 year-old Kathy Preston of Barnstead, the only Holocaust survivor in attendance. At five years old, she escaped the Nazi roundup of Jews in Hungary, when a neighbor hid her in the attic.
These days, Preston travels to schools, telling her story. She says the State Library exhibit illustrates for young people the worst consequences of bullying.
“Because they always ask me, 'Why didn’t people escape?' It’s because it didn’t come all at once, you know. It was slow," Preston says. "First there were laws that you couldn’t go to school. Then there were laws that you weren’t allowed to have a shop, you weren’t allowed to have a doctor. And slowly but surely, they took away all your rights and dehumanized you to the point where you could not fight back anymore.”
Preston says 28 members of her family died at Auschwitz.
The exhibit runs through March 22nd.