Inauguration of the national Auschwitz-Birkenau Institute in Spain
On 6 October in Logroño, in the autonomous community of La Rioja, the establishment of the National Institute of Auschwitz-Birkenau in Spain was officially announced. It will support the activities of the Auschwitz Museum Diplomacy of Remembrance in the country.
The inaugural meeting was attended, among others, by representatives of the La Rioja community authorities, President of Logroño Pablo Hermoso de Mendoza Gonzales, Polish Ambassador to Spain Marzena Adamczyk, Auschwitz Museum Director Dr. Piotr M. A. Cywiński, head of the Diplomacy of Remembrance at the Auschwitz Museum and President of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Institute Maria Ossolińska, as well as Luis Ferrero, Director of the Spanish company Musealia, producer of the exhibition “Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not so far away”. The work of the Institute in Spain will be managed by Enrique de Villamor y Soraluce, who as of January 2020 is also the Honorary Consul of the Memorial in Spain.
'To properly connect the memory of history with the present and future, we need to root education in local communities. The experience of Spain in the first half of the XX century compared to most of the European continent was markedly different. Nonetheless, before the coronavirus pandemic, the Spaniards were one of the largest groups visiting the Auschwitz Memorial. Therefore, the establishment of the Institute in Spain and its branches in various regions is a crucial stage in building the Diplomacy of Remembrance,” said Auschwitz Museum Director Piotr M. A. Cywiński.
'We will try to support not only the governments of the various regions in Spain but also the universities, foundations, public and private institutions in developing educational tools on both the history of Auschwitz and contemporary human rights issues. We want to warn against the dangers of ideologies of hatred, racism, antisemitism, xenophobia or populism. We hope that our actions will contribute to shaping attitudes of civic commitment towards a spirit of responsibility,' said Enrique de Villamor, founder of the Association for the Cultivation of European Traditions and Culture (APTCE),
'The Institute will be an essential tool for our teachers and young people. Training of teachers in peaceful conflict management is crucial but rarely practised. We must teach new generations values, respect for others and how to live in a diverse environment. For this reason, a place like the Auschwitz-Birkenau Institute is significant,' said Pedro Urunel Najer, Director of the Education Department of the La Rioja Government.
'Thanks to those who sought to preserve memory just the war, today we have the tools and experience to help build a democratic community. It is Poland’s responsibility to explain this story. I am delighted to see the desire of local institutions to work together towards this goal,' said Ambassador Marzena Adamczyk.
The exhibition ‘German Nazi Death Camp Konzentrationslager Auschwitz’ also opened in Logroño. The exhibition, prepared by the Museum and translated into Spanish, presents all the major issues of the history of the Auschwitz camp, as well as the origins of the Nazi movement and the specific elements of the German terror system introduced in occupied Poland. The same exhibition is also presented in the historical interior of the anti-aircraft shelter in Guernica.
'To implement the idea of the Diplomacy of Remembrance, we plan to build a worldwide network of people and institutions involved in preserving the memory of Auschwitz, the Holocaust and the victims of these crimes. To this end, we are appointing honorary ambassadors and consuls of the Memorial, and we are also planning to set up local, national institutes that will work together. The Museum will support them in terms of content. I am very pleased that the Auschwitz-Birkenau Institute was set up in Spain so quickly, despite the difficulties caused by the pandemic,' Maria Ossolińska, President of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Institute, emphasised.
The plans of the Spanish Auschwitz-Birkenau Institute include, above all, educational activities aimed at students of Spanish secondary schools and universities, as well as training for teachers, support for scientific research projects and organisation of trips to the Auschwitz Memorial.
'Although we are based in the La Rioja region, we also plan to establish local branches in other autonomous regions. It will permit the development of educational projects on a national scale,' added Enrique de Villamor.
The Auschwitz-Birkenau Institute is engaged in international cooperation and offers numerous cultural, social and educational projects in close cooperation with the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum. The Institute aims to build and continuously expand the network of people involved in the activities of memory diplomacy at the Auschwitz Museum and to reach out to those who have never visited the Memorial. The Institute undertakes these activities in cooperation with institutions dealing with the subject of the Holocaust in the world, educational and cultural institutions, associations, and people committed to these issues.