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The BBC's Jon Silverman
"The Imperial War Museum first conceived this project 11 years ago"
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The BBC's Nicholas Witchell
"The display is now the largest Holocaust museum in Europe"
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Tuesday, 6 June, 2000, 17:22 GMT 18:22 UK
Queen opens Holocaust exhibition
The Queen
The Queen meets Holocaust survivors
The Queen met survivors of the Holocaust on Tuesday when she opened a new exhibition witnessing the terror of Nazi persecution.

The permanent exhibition at London's Imperial War Museum has taken four years to put together and uses original artefacts, documents, photographs and film to tell the story of the Nazis' genocidal programme.

Just to survive one day in the camp and retain a sense of humanity was itself an act of resistance

Holocaust survivor Esther Brunstein
The Queen, accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh and Duke of Kent, looked sombre as she viewed the exhibits which included a funeral cart used to collect the dead in the Warsaw ghetto and filmed testimony of survivors.

Survivor Esther Brunstein told the royal visitor the exhibition had transported her "back to a time when I lived on another planet when evil reigned supreme".

Mrs Brunstein, who survived Auschwitz and Belsen, said she had been determined to survive against all odds to tell the tale of terrible suffering.

"Just to survive one day in the camp and retain a sense of humanity was itself an act of resistance," she said.

'Atrocities go on'

"Yet atrocities go on in the world today and the tragedy is that we still haven't learned the lesson."

The Queen also met Mrs Barbara Stimler, 73, a survivor of Kutno and Auschwitz concentration camps, in Poland.

"I just told her how grateful I am to be alive today," said Mrs Stimler, who, as a 15-year-old was forced marched to dig anti-tank ditches on the German-Polish border in 1945.

"We had no food - we lived on snow and raw potatoes we dug up - and if you fell the Germans would just shoot you," she said.

The exhibition
The exhibition at the Imperial War Museum
The Imperial War Museum first considered hosting the exhibition 11 years ago but lack of space prevented it happening until a 12.5m Lottery grant helped pay for a new five-storey extension.

While the main focus is on the persecution of European Jews, the extermination of other groups such as gypsies, Poles and homosexuals is also documented.

Writing on the internet, on the Buckingham Palace Royal Insight magazine web site, the Duke of Kent, president of Imperial War Museum Trustees, described the exhibition as one of its "most important developments".

"Accurate information is needed to prevent myths and misconceptions from proliferating, and to ensure that the important lessons that need to be learned from the Holocaust are not distorted or derailed," he said.

It is not the first UK permanent exhibition about the Holocaust. There is also the Beth Shalom Holocaust Museum in Laxton, Nottinghamshire.

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03 Jun 00 | UK
Fresh look at Holocaust
21 Nov 97 | World
Hitler museum sparks row
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