Joint seminar for educators of the March of the Living, the Polin and Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum
The International Centre for Education about Auschwitz and the Holocaust in collaboration with the International March of the Living organised for the first time a seminar for educators of the March. The seminar was attended by 17 persons, who are involved on a daily basis with teaching on Jewish history, culture and the tragedy of world war II and the Holocaust. The programme included a study visit to Warsaw and Oświecim with the purpose of sharing experiences and showing how educators from Polish institutions conduct educational activities.
In the first part of the programme, the group had the opportunity to learn in detail the main exhibition on the thousand-year history of the Polish Jews in the Polin Museum and work with the guided tour trail prepared for the March of the Living groups. A significant part of the programme was also dedicated to the post-war fate of Polish Jews and contemporary ways of commemorating their centuries-long presence in Poland. The group also visited the new exhibition at the Jewish Historical Institute, titled: “What we could not shout out to the world” dedicated to the Oneg Shabbat underground organisation that operated in the ghetto during the war.
The second part of the programme commenced at the Jewish Centre in Oświecim, where in addition to a tour of the exhibition “Oszpicin. History of Jewish Oświecim” and a synagogue, the group attended a lecture on the Roma community in Poland. The participants spent the next two days at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial. They visited places inaccessible to visitors at the premises of the former Auschwitz I camp and those, which are not part of regular visits at the former Auschwitz II-Birkenau camp. The group also had the unique opportunity to visit and meet employees from various departments - the Collections, Archive and Conservation. One of the highlights of the entire programme turned out to be the meeting with a former KL Auschwitz prisoner Batszewa Dagan, during which she shared her memories of the war and experience on education about the Holocaust.
Comments of the participants:
I wish like to express my sincere thanks to the entire Auschwitz Museum team. The seminar you prepared meant so much to me. I will need some time to process all that I have learnt. Your team is gifted with incredible knowledge. You are the most honest and devoted people I have ever encountered. I am chock-full of joy that I could participate in this seminar. I hope to stay in touch with you and incorporate several tools that I have learned this past week.
Roneet Edrich, Deputy director of March of the Living - South Region, USA
I have been involved in education about the Holocaust and activities of the March of the Living for years, and when I was invited to attend the seminar, I had doubts whether there was something else I could learn or discuss. Participation in the week-long seminar organised by professional educators of the Polin and Auschwitz Memorial Museums proved just how very wrong I was. I felt that this seminar was a challenge for me. I drew inspiration from the materials and subsequent discussions. Moreover, I felt surrounded by an exceptional group of educators. I am still processing everything I saw, but I feel sincere gratitude and honour that I could participate in this project.
Rene Pozniak, Education Specialist and Youth Leader in the March of the Living, Holocaust and Genocide Centre in Johannesburg, Republic of South Africa.