Meeting XXXVII: 12-13 June 2023
For the first time in history, the International Auschwitz Council under the Polish Prime Minister was held in Gdańsk. Its 37th session, organized at the city’s Museum of the Second World War, was chaired by Prof. Grzegorz Berendt. IAC members also visited the Stutthof Museum in Sztutowo.
Session guests included among others Israeli ambassador to Poland Yacov Livne, representatives of the City of Gdańsk and educational authorities of the Pomerania region as well as the representatives of museums operating within Memorial Sites. At the beginning of the sessions, on behalf of Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, Prof. Berendt presented the act of nomination to Prof. Michael Berenbaum, absent during the previous session.
The Director of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, Dr. Piotr M. A. Cywiński, presented a report on the activities of the Memorial. He discussed, among other things, the attendance and budget issues, conservation works as well as educational and publishing activity. He announced that on June 14th the new Visitor Service Centre will be opened.
In view of the latest events affecting the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial as well as studies on the Holocaust and German Nazi genocide during WW2, Council members unanimously adopted three resolutions.
RESOLUTION NUMBER ONE
The International Auschwitz Council expresses its gratitude to the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in Oświęcim for its immediate and proper response in the face of instrumentalization of the tragedy of those who suffered and perished in the German Nazi concentration and extermination camp. The Council strongly reaffirms that the misuse of images, symbols, associations, and facts about Auschwitz and the Holocaust, by any side in the political dispute, is derogatory to the Victims and undermines the foundations of Remembrance. We call on all participants involved in public life to be particularly sensitive, reliable, and responsible when addressing issues related to the Holocaust and all other instances of German genocide during World War II.
RESOLUTION NUMBER TWO
In the past, the International Auschwitz Council received assurances from the Polish Government of its willingness to hand over to the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum all the areas located between the so-called decompressive road in Brzezinka and the boundaries of the Memorial Site. However, this was not implemented – as announced – as part of the Oświęcim Strategic Government Program. The reprehensible situation of setting up an ice cream booth almost at the threshold of the Auschwitz II-Birkenau protection zone indicates that the above-mentioned areas should be handed over to the Museum as soon as possible and the Museum should be financially supported in order to complete the visible separation of areas protected by this institution from all external areas subject to standard legal regulations. The Council asks all appropriate governmental and local authorities to cooperate for this purpose. In the Council's view, this is the only solution to avoid a potentially conflict-evoking extension of the existing protection zone.
RESOLUTION NUMBER THREE
The International Auschwitz Council recalls that freedom of research and scholarly expression - including on Auschwitz and the Holocaust - is an indispensable condition for the pursuit of truth. In this pursuit, in turn, we fulfill one of our key commitments – dignified commemoration of Victims. The Council categorically opposes any attempts to restrict the freedom of such research, particularly condemning the outrageous use of violence. The only basis for resolving disputes about the past is a free, mutually respectful and reliable debate between scholars, to which the Council calls on researchers of the Holocaust and World War II.
The Council also listened to two more reports. The first of them was presented by Piotr Tarnowski, Director of the Stutthof Museum in Sztutowo. One of the major challenges that the carers of this Memorial Site have to face consists in the shape of its main exhibition. The Council have decided to appoint a group responsible for assessing the conception of the exposition. The second report referred to the Piaśnicki Museum constituting a branch of the Stutthof Museum under construction in Wejherowo. Teresa Patsidis, Head of this institution, invited IAC members to its inauguration scheduled for this summer.
In the afternoon, Council members took part in the tour of the Museum of the Second World War. In the evening, they participated in the ceremony of the second unveiling of the Kindertransport monument funded by the City of Gdańsk and situated by the PKP Main Train Station.
On the second day, the Council visited the Stutthof Museum in Sztutowo, thus continuing its statutory mission of extending the care over so called Holocaust Monuments in Poland.