Holocaust Museum to return barracks from Nazi camp to Poland

Holocaust Museum to return barracks from Nazi camp to Poland
Wooden barracks that housed prisoners at the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp on display at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. (Associated Press)

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum will soon return one of its most prized relics -- but is acquiring something similar.

The wooden barracks that housed prisoners at the Nazis' Auschwitz-Birkenau camp will go back to Poland, the Associated Press reports.


The barracks, which have served as the Washington, D.C., museum’s centerpiece since it opened in 1993, were on long-term loan from the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.

The removal of the relic comes after years of back and forth between the Holocaust museum and Polish government, which in 2003 passed a law stating that artifacts on loan abroad had to be returned after five years for inspection.

Officials on both sides agreed that then sending the barracks back to the U.S. would risk damage to the structure.

To replace the piece, Holocaust museum officials have acquired similar barracks from the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp that will belong to the U.S. institution.

The museum on Tuesday closed the section where the barracks were seen, and that portion of the building will remain closed for five months until the new barracks go on display.

"The agreement we reached with Polish authorities allows us to adhere to Polish law and have a barracks from Birkenau in our permanent collection and display it in the Museum," the Holocaust Museum said in a statement.