Austrian decorations for the management of the Auschwitz Museum
Auschwitz Museum Director Dr. Piotr M. A. Cywiński was awarded the Grand Decoration of Honour for Services to the Republic of Austria by Dr Alexander Van der Bellen, President of the Federal Republic of Austria. Deputy Director Rafał Pióro was awarded the Gold Medal of Honour.
The awards were presented by Alexander Schallenberg, Austrian Minister for Foreign Affairs, during a ceremony held at the Austrian Cultural Forum in Warsaw on 7 June. The ceremony was attended by Auschwitz survivors Bogdan Bartnikowski and Marian Turski, Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Szymon Szynkowski vel Sęk, Austrian Ambassador Andreas Stadler, ACF Director Gudrun Hardiman-Pollross, and Hanna Lessing, Secretary-General of the National Fund of the Republic of Austria for Victims of National Socialism.
Andrzej Kacorzyk, deputy director of the Museum and director of the International Center for Education about Auschwitz and the Holocaust, who was absent in Warsaw due to personal reasons, will also receive the Gold Medal of Honour at a later date.
The awards for the Museum management were not only an expression of appreciation for the exceptional significance and role of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial in preserving the memory of the victims of the camp and protecting the authenticity of the post-camp space but, above all, an appreciation of Polish-Austrian cooperation in creating the new Austrian exhibition "Far removed. Austria and Auschwitz".
'The opening of the new Austrian exhibition was the culmination of long, intensive and close cooperation between the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum and the National Fund of the Republic of Austria for Victims of National Socialism,' said Minister Alexander Schallenberg.
'Mr Minister, please extend my heartfelt gratitude to all of Austria and its President for appreciating this difficult deed, which is laboriously created year after year, generation after generation, in the Auschwitz space,' said Museum Director Piotr Cywiński.
'I wish to share this award today with the entire team: conservators, historians, archivists, the collections staff, lawyers, administration, and many others. Without this team, the success of the Austrian exhibition would not have been possible. I would also like to thank Hanna Lessing and her team for the cooperation.' he added.
'The Austrian exhibition is one of those exhibitions that show how a smart and emotionally well-chosen minimalism directed towards victims can be most effective in such a place. I hope that this is a new beginning. A great deal of joint work awaits us, both in devising a good functioning Gusen space, developing the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation or increasing attendance from Austria at the Memorial,' said Director Cywiński.
The Badge of Honour for Services to the Republic of Austria is the highest state decoration of the Republic of Austria with the rank of order. It was established on 2 April 1952 by the National Council of the Republic of Austria and is awarded to Austrian citizens and foreigners for outstanding civic achievements and services to the Republic of Austria.