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Discussing the Buffer Zone


The fifth setting of the International Auschwitz Council was held in Oświęcim on April 15-16. The Council was convened by the Polish prime minister to advise on museums and monuments at the Holocaust and concentration camp sites in Poland.

The fifth session centered on the most important issues connected with the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in Oświęcim: the buffer zone around the site, publishing and education projects, and the future of the Government Strategic Oświęcim Program (aid for the city in matters connected with the fact that the death camp site is located there). The session was attended by representatives of the Polish national government, and the local governments of Oświęcim and Brzezinka, where the sites are located.

Other issues considered by the Council included the commemoration of the Bełżec death camp site and issues connected with the Gross-Rosen museum.

Aside from issues associated with Auschwitz-Birkenau, the Council also deals with the sites of the Majdanek camp in Lublin, Treblinka near Małkinia, Stuthoff near Gdańsk, Gross-Rosen in Rogoźnica, and Bełżec and Sobibor, where monuments and museums were erected after the war.

Oświęcim, April 15, 2002

The fifth session of the International Auschwitz Council was held in Oświęcim on April 15, 2002, chaired by Professor Władysław Bartoszewski, and attended by vice-minister of culture Aleksandra Jakubowska and vice minister of internal affairs and administration Andrzej Barcikowski, as well as vice-governor of Malopolska Andrzej Harężlak. Barcikowski discussed issues connected with the Government Strategic Oświęcim Program and the area around the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.

Museum director Jerzy Wróblewski reported on the activities of the Museum over the past year and presented its plans for the immediate future. The Council also heard information on preservation and renovation work being carried out at the Auschwitz site with foreign donations. The next big upcoming job is the preservation of 3,600 concrete fence posts.

The Council approved a report by Andrzej Przewoźnik, general secretary of the Council for the Protection of the Remembrance of Struggle and Martyrdom, on the new commemoration of the Bełżec death camp. By the end of 2002, the first stage of work on a monument and museum pavilion is to be completed at the site, which was the third largest death camp, in terms of the number of victims, after Auschwitz-Birkenau and Treblinka.

The Council issued its approval of Professor Józef Szajna's proposal for a Memorial Mound for the Victims of Genocide and Reconciliation Among Peoples, in the expectation that the Oświęcim local government will also support the concept. A site next to the "Judenrampe" railroad unloading platform, which would connect Auschwitz and Birkenau, is being considered.

The Council also passed a resolution expressing its reservations about developments at the site belonging to the Maja Corporation, where the construction project is directly adjacent to a site of incomparable national memorial significance—the place where the first transport of Polish prisoners arrived in June 1940. The Council called for negotiations between the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Administration and the owners of the site in order to resolve this knotty issue.

There are reservations about this site. Photo Ryszard Domasik
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