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39th session of the International Auschwitz Council


The 39th session of the International Auschwitz Council took place at the State Museum at Majdanek in Lublin on 22 May 2024. The session was chaired by Dani Dayan.

39th session of the...
39th session of the...
39th session of the...
39th session of the...
39th session of the...
39th session of the...
39th session of the...

During the meeting, Dr. Piotr M. A. Cywiński, the Director of the Auschwitz Museum, announced the upcoming 80th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, scheduled for 27 January 2025. The commemoration will take place in a special tent over the gate to the former Auschwitz II-Birkenau camp.

"The greatest success is the fact that the tender for the construction of the entire infrastructure for the commemoration event was successfully completed, also thanks to the enormous support of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage. This includes the main tent, the auxiliary tents an,d the press tent for around 900 journalists. A new feature will be that we will want to set up a television studio which will broadcast a special programme a few hours before the event and a few hours after, which we will make available free of charge to everyone, both via satellite transmission and on the Internet," said Piotr Cywiński.

The main symbolic element of the commemorations will be the freight wagon, located in the middle of the ramp at the former Birkenau camp. This wagon will be extended in front of the Death Gate, where candles will be laid in memory of all the victims of Auschwitz.

All Auschwitz survivors are invited to the anniversary commemoration with one accompanying person. "I know that a special committee is even being set up in the United States under the chairmanship of Ronald Lauder to bring together people who will financially support the arrival of Survivors from various remote locations," said director Cywiński.

He reminded, that in adherence to the arrangements of the International Auschwitz Council, the Museum has sent information about the event to the countries of the European Union and the donor countries of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation, except Russia. These countries will determine the composition of the anniversary delegations. However, we also welcome representatives from countries outside this group to participate in the observance. Please feel free to contact the organising team at the Museum directly to express your interest.

The Director also mentioned that attendance is slowly returning to pre-pandemic levels, which has secured the Museum's economic situation. Additionally, a new platform, "Auschwitz in Front of Your Eyes", was launched in January, allowing for online live guided tours of the Memorial.

"The tours are led by trained guides who use modern technology to guide groups around the camp, presenting key sites and using Survivor accounts. Participants can ask questions live, making the experience interactive and engaging. We are constantly working to develop this project, which will also be made possible by financial support from the United States and the Google Foundation. It was surprising to us that this new form of tour attracts not only schools or individual visitors, but companies are also starting to use it, organising such sessions for their employees as part of their training or to build their company ethos," said Piotr Cywiński.

Director Cywiński highlighted the start of work on the final part of the New Main Exhibition, a significant endeavour that has already unearthed some special historical items, including camp chess pieces. The New Polish Exhibition, temporarily replaced by a special exhibition on the fate of Polish citizens in Auschwitz, is also in progress. In addition, he spoke about the opening in Boston of another instalment of the popular travelling exhiition "Aubschwitz. Not long ago, not far away".

Director Cywiński announced the opening of a new hostel near the Visitors Services Centre. This facility, primarily intended for volunteers and participants in various seminars or study visits, will provide a convenient and comfortable accommodation option for those engaging with our educational programs.

Furthermore, he mentioned the conservation work being carried out at the camp’s premises, financed by the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation, such as the preservation of the ruins of the gas chamber and crematorium III and the building of one of the camp bathouses. He also spoke about the preservation of children's shoes, which was supported financially by the March of the Living.

While talking about conservation issues, director Cywiński mentioned a possibly significant discovery at the construction site of the expressway near the Auschwitz I site. Media reports suggest that a camp rubbish dump containing numerous objects belonging to the victims has been found. However, the Museum has not received official confirmation of this discovery.

The International Auschwitz Council unanimously accepted a resolution in support of the Museum, urging the "the transfer of the entire archaeological material to the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum and, in the future, respect for the principle of priority of the museums operating at the site of the former German Nazi camps as regards the acquisition of post-camp relics."

"The International Auschwitz Council has consistently held the view that one of its most important principles is that collections and relics associated with the Memorial should not be dispersed," IAC Secretary Marek Zając emphasised.

Additionalzy, during the Council meeting, Tomasz Kranz, Director of the State Museum at Majdanek, provided information on activities at Majdanek, Bełżec, and Sobibór Memorial Sites. Director Edward Kopówka, on the other hand, shared details about the developments at the former extermination camp in Treblinka.

Before the meeting, Council members visited the Museum at Majdanek, the Museum and Memorial Site in Sobibór with a new exhibition commemorating the historical space of the former German Nazi extermination camp, the synagogue complex in Włodawa, and the 'Grodzka Gate - NN Theatre' in Lublin.