After over two decades and some lengthy negotiations, a major piece of Holocaust history is returning to the site of the Nazi-established death camp it came from.
According to The Jewish Daily Forward on Sunday, a large section of wooden barracks that once held both Jewish and non-Jewish prisoners between 1941-1945 arrived at Poland's port of Gdynia and is now en route back to the Memorial and Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau after a long stay at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.
The particular section comes from the Auschwitz II-Birkenau camp, which was constructed in 1941 to ease congestion at the main camp. It was originally intended to be used to house prisoners of war and held Soviet soldiers at one time before being re-purposed as a labor and extermination camp. It was also home to a camp hospital.
The Holocaust Museum first borrowed the barracks in 1989 and renewed its contract for another decade in 1999. However, a law passed in Poland in 2003 restricting loans of Polish historical artifacts to just five years, leading to extensive negotiations between the two museums.
“Working closely with our Polish partners, we have reached an agreement that ensures these vitally important artifacts will be preserved and used to educate future generations,” U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Director Sara J. Bloomfield said.
Though the piece was a major part of the American museum's exhibition, it will ultimately be replaced with another set from Birkenau.
Now that the set is back in Poland, it will undergo a conservation process that could take up to three years before being rejoined with its other half.