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Competition for a new Polish exhibition at the Memorial


The Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum announces a new competition for the artistic concept and architectural and construction design of the exhibition, titled, “Poles in KL Auschwitz. Inhabitants of the Land of Oświęcim during World War II”.


The new Polish exhibition at the Auschwitz Memorial will be financed thanks to the extraordinary support of the Ministry of Culture, National Heritage and Sports. The exhibition will be located on two floors of the historic Block 15 at the Auschwitz I site.

The exposition will be an extension of the main exhibition, with a particular focus on the fate of Poles in KL Auschwitz. It will present the history of prisoners registered as political prisoners and other categories of Polish citizens incarcerated at the camp, including Polish Jews, deported to Auschwitz for extermination.

'Over 140 thousand Polish prisoners were incarcerated in Auschwitz. Nearly half perished or were murdered. As part of the Holocaust, the Germans also deported about 300 thousand Polish Jews to the camp. Many of the Roma who were murdered here also came from regions of the pre-war Polish Republic. We will present their fate in the new exhibition, said Museum Director Dr. Piotr M. A. Cywiński.<

'The Auschwitz camp is known worldwide primarily as a Holocaust site. However, it ought to be remembered that the Germans established this camp at the beginning of the war for Polish political prisoners. It is fundamental to show the entire multidimensional history of this place at the Memorial, so the creation of the new Polish national exhibition is of immense importance. I encourage participating in this unique and prestigious competition. The quality of the winning entry will undoubtedly translate into a more profound social understanding of the tragedy of Polish citizens in Auschwitz,' stressed Dr. Piotr M. A. Cywiński.

The previous competition could not be adjudicated. 'Unfortunately, one of the two admitted competition entries did not meet all the formal requirements regarding the proposed construction solutions and fire protection. It is imperative because the exhibition will be located in an authentic, preservation-protected former camp building. Alternatively, the substantive, artistic and visual values of the second entry were poorly appraised by the jury,' said Robert Płaczek, coordinator of works on the exhibition

'The rules had to be adapted in the meantime to the new Public Procurement Act; therefore, the competition will be conducted electronically. This can be a significant convenience for potential contractors. We, therefore, urge design teams and architects, as well as conservators and engineers, to enter the competition and participate in the mission of preserving memory,' he added.

The author of the new Polish exhibition scenario is the head of the Museum Research Centre, Dr. Piotr Setkiewicz.

'The exhibition will shed light on the beginnings of the war and the German occupation of Poland, illustrating the scale of persecution and cruelty, as well as the planning of arrests by the German police. It will also address the mechanisms of the deportation of Polish Jews, categories of Polish prisoners of KL Auschwitz, causes of their death in the camp, and the subject of liberation and post-war creation of memory,' he said.

'The second part of the exhibition will deal with the history of Oświęcim during World War II and the reality of the occupation, the deportations, the activities of IG Farbenindustrie, and the German plans for the city’s redevelopment. It will also talk about the life-threatening assistance that was given to Auschwitz by “People of Good Will,” Poles residing near the so-called camp interest zone - an area of 40 square kilometres, which isolated the camp area from the outside world. The entire project will end with a list of over 1,200 names of individuals who helped prisoners,' added Dr. Piotr Setkiewicz.

The exposition will be adapted to the diverse expectations of visitors to the Memorial. The introduction of new themes into the exhibition will enrich the educators’ narrative, thus increasing the educational value of the exposition. The visual elements - photographs, display boards, descriptions - will be designed to permit both individual visitors and groups unrestricted access to the presented content.

The cost of the exhibition, including technical and conservation work in the historic building, and the construction of the exhibition itself, is approximately PLN 23 million.

Poles were the first prisoners sent in large numbers to Auschwitz. The first transport of Polish political prisoners was sent by the Germans from Tarnów on 14 June 1940. A specially prepared online lesson presents the fate of the first Poles in Auschwitz.

Poles were the second-largest group of prisoners deported to Auschwitz. More on the fate of Poles in Auschwitz.