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Does Oswiecim Have a Future? A Conference on the City's Problems


A Conference on the City's Problems "This city is beginning to lose its status. It is not developing. The government and parliament could take concrete steps for the residents of Oswiecim," said Polish Senate Deputy Speaker Marcin Tyrna at a conference on the problems created for the city of Oswiecim by the proximity of the site of the German Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp.

The local government has been talking about these problems for a long time, but regards the response from the national government as insufficient. Oswiecim mayor Józef Krawczyk therefore proposed the convening of the round table talks that were held yesterday. Aside from local, township, and municipal officials, participants included representatives of the Polish president, the government, parliament, the senate, the International Auschwitz Council, and the provincial governor.

"In Oswiecim, we know how hard it is for the city and the Auschwitz-Birkeanu State Museum to coexist. Changes are necessary. What the city needs above all is a calm and dignified existence. The problems of the city should not be seen in isolation from the problems of the Museum, and the problems of the Museum should not be seen in isolation from the everyday problems of the city and its residents. Above all, these problems should not be turned into conflicts. Here in Oswiecim, we know what should be done," said mayor Krawczyk. In order to help avoid such problems in the future, the State Museum prepared information on the extent and boundaries of Auschwitz Concentration Camp and other historical sites. The list contained 21 such sites, among them the former tannery where the controversial discotheque is located. "The Museum does not want to create obstacles and does not want to be a burden. On the contrary, we can become a good partner in development," said Museum director Jerzy Wroblewski. Minister Piotr Stachanczyk, government plenipotentiary for the Oswiecim Program, announced that development plans would continue in the coming year, with 4,500,000 zloty appropriated. One proposal approved at the conference was the updating of the Program for the years 2001-2007 with funding from the national budget.

The conference also called for consideration to be given to government involvement in the utilization of areas surrounding the Museum, with guidance from the Museum administration.