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MEMORIAL AND MUSEUM AUSCHWITZ-BIRKENAU FORMER GERMAN NAZI
CONCENTRATION AND EXTERMINATION CAMP

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Director of the Auschwitz Museum became the first laureate of the Maximilian Kolbe Werk Prize

20-10-2023

Director of the Auschwitz Museum, Dr. Piotr M. A. Cywiński, became the first laureate of the Maximilian-Kolbe-Werk Prize, an award established to mark the organization's 50th anniversary. The award was presented on 19 October in Berlin during the event of MKW anniversary.

 

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The laudation was delivered by retired Archbishop of Bamberg, Ludwig Schick. He said, "Thinking about Auschwitz requires thinking about individual fates, about individual biographies. How to present them is very close to Dr. Cywiński's heart. Managing the Memorial Site, he shows an interest in individual people, in humanity. This is reflected in his book 'Auschwitz. A Monograph on a Human,' published in Polish and English. It will soon be published in German."

"This book should become a classic in Auschwitz literature. Director Cywiński deals with the experiences of people who went through Auschwitz. He displays the fragile human dignity, the devastated face of humanity, but also its magnificence and the ability to remain human. Over the years, dealing with the history of humanity, especially the history of the past century, this is his view of people," he added.

Upon receiving the award, Dr. Piotr Cywiński stated, "Times change, generations change, our world changes so quickly. However, we have our values of reconciliation, traditions of how to serve, how to help, how to have hope, how to trust, how to be a voice for these values in our societies, in these special times. These values will not fade away, despite generational changes. They will survive."

"If we say today that much has been done, I can assure you that in this ever-changing world full of challenges, there is still more to be done in the perspective of these many difficult tasks for the future. If I can help and serve in any way, I am ready," he emphasized.

Before the award ceremony, two panel discussions took place: "How to continue the work of reconciliation in Europe? Special responsibility of religion" and "50 years of the Maximilian Kolbe Werk, what have we achieved?". Dr. Leon Weintraub, a survivor of the German Nazi camp Auschwitz, participated in the latter.

“Working on preserving memory so that we do not forget what happened is a unique experience, and we should ensure that it never repeats in the world's history. What happened cannot be forgotten. It would mean the killing of the victims once again," Leon Weintraub said.

The President of Germany, Dr. Frank-Walter Steinmeier, also addressed those gathered, saying, "I would like to thank all the volunteers of Maximilian Kolbe Werk. You all represent active charitable work, often inspired by the Catholic faith. You all live in accordance with the first article of our constitution, which imposes on us the duty to respect and protect the dignity of every individual."

"We will not allow our country to forget something that cannot be forgotten. We do not tolerate antisemitism; we do not tolerate racism. We do not tolerate misanthropy in any form, and we will work together to ensure that it remains this way in the future," President Steinmeier emphasized.

The Maximilian-Kolbe-Werk Association has been helping survivors of German concentration camps and ghettos living in Poland and other countries in Central and Eastern Europe since 1973.

MKW provides financial aid, supports medical treatment, and organizes sanatorium stays and recreational opportunities for survivors. One of its activities includes projects conducted with witnesses of history, during which survivors share their camp experiences with young people.

Since 2010, the Association has also organized international meetings where survivors and young journalists from Germany, Poland, and many other European countries participate.