Branch of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Institute in Catalonia
On July 7th, the national Auschwitz-Birkenau Institute in Spain opened a new branch in Girona, a city in the Autonomous Community of Catalonia. This branch will support the activities carried out by the Auschwitz Museum Memorial Diplomacy in Spain.
This is a significant step in implementing the project, which was inaugurated on the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz Nazi German concentration and extermination camp in January 2020.
Attendees at the opening ceremony presided over by the Honorary Consul of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and President of the National Auschwitz-Birkenau Institute in Spain, Enrique de Villamor y Soraluce, included representatives of the Spanish government, the city and provincial government of Girona, the Polish Consul General Ilona Kaldońska, Auschwitz Museum Director Dr. Piotr Cywiński, and President of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Institute Maria Ossolińska.
The Catalonia branch team will be headed by Dr. Joan Marti Arjona, who stressed that he aims to continue working to build a society based on the pillars of human rights and democracy. 'We want to be part of the social reflection on our common responsibility today, on the importance of peace and democracy in a common Europe and the world,' he emphasised.
Dr. Joan Martí also announced that work is underway to implement a project with the working title 'capitals of dialogue', the first phase of which will aim to strengthen links between municipalities and European and Latin American universities. 'Our idea is to create an axis of cities, universities and civil society organisations that are committed to promoting education on universal values,' he added.
Dr. Piotr Cywiński underlined that Memory is about the present, not the past. 'We see time and again the need to root ourselves in memory, as young people need points of reference. There is no reference point as important as that found in the history and tragedy of Auschwitz. However, it is not about repeating historical facts but rather accompanying the reflection on who we are to build societies aware of the necessity to grow in universal values,' said Piotr Cywiński.
The President of Girona Provincial Council Miquel Noguer, highlighted the importance of the presence of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Institute branch in the region: 'We must take advantage of the synergy that the new centre can generate for the region to teach values, empathy and respect, so that our world can be a better place in the future.' In this context, he accentuated the Girona Provincial Council's commitment to projects aimed at restoring the historical memory of the Holocaust, such as those relating to the figure of Walter Benjamin. The inauguration featured the exhibition "Passage through Hell. The Warsaw Ghetto".
The National Auschwitz-Birkenau Institute in Spain began operations in October 2020.
The Institute undertakes international cooperation and offers numerous cultural, social and educational projects in close collaboration with the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum. The Institute aims to build and continually expand the network of individuals committed to the diplomacy of remembrance at the Auschwitz Museum and to reach those who have never been to the Memorial. The Institute undertakes these activities in cooperation with institutions dealing with the Holocaust and extermination worldwide, educational and cultural institutions, associations, and individuals involved in the issue.
In conjunction with the Auschwitz-Birkenau Institute, the Museum is building a network of honorary ambassadors and consuls of the Memorial in various countries. The establishment of local institutes is a further significant step in creating an increasingly larger cooperation network.