Conservation works on two blocks in the Auschwitz I camp completed
A three-year project concerning the preservation of historical blocks 2 and 3 of the German Nazi concentration and extermination camp of Auschwitz has just been completed. Its aim was to protect the authenticity of these preserved blocks and to make them available to visitors in the future.
“It is of the highest importance to maintain the authenticity of the camp from the moment when the last of the former prisoners departed,” said Dr Piotr M.A. Cywiński, director of the Museum, during conferences summarising the project, which took place on 9 October. “The original objects of Auschwitz are today, for the world, not only unique, material evidence of the German Nazi crimes, but also a symbol of the atrocities of war, terror, Shoa, and the genocidal, racist policies are a clear sign for future generations,” stressed Cywiński.
Among the many buildings of the former Auschwitz I camp, two very valuable masonry prisoner blocks were selected that did not go through too much transformation after the camp ceased to function. The works included comprehensive maintenance on all the preserved original features and equipment of the buildings.
“Particularly challenging was to minimise any interference through the introduction of new installations necessary for the protection of the buildings,” said Rafał Pióro, deputy director of the Museum. “As much as possible of the original structure of the block was utilised during the occasion of working out a variety of unique conservation solutions,” he noted.
Prof Małgorzata Omilanowska, Vice-Minister of Culture and National Heritage, who attended the conferences, thanked all those involved in implantation of the project for their great effort. “For us it is an event of great importance, because this is the first time in the history of Polish conservation, and probably for the first time in the history of conservation in the world, that we have completed maintenance work using an entirely new way of treating the existing material of the monument,” said Vice-Minister Omilanowska.
“In any other building, this material would be replaced, but here it is meticulously maintained. For those who are accustomed to seeing preserved landmarks, the shock will be inside the barracks, because it was here that the flaking panelling was painstakingly restored. They are as authentic as was possible to maintain. What I saw is unique and incomparable to any other effort used to preserve anything that might be evidence to the drama that played out here,” underlined the minister.
The project was realised with the use of funding from the European Regional Development Fund under the Operational Programme Infrastructure and Environment for the years 2007-2013 and with funding from the budget of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, as well as with the involvement of the Museum. Restoration work took place from autumn 2010, and the entire cost of all the works amounted to PLN 17.5 million.