Meeting of the Council of the International Centre for Education about Auschwitz and the Holocaust
The summary and evaluation of activities of the International Center for Education about Auschwitz and the Holocaust at the Auschwitz Museum in the years 2019-22 as well as challenges for ICEAH during the pandemic and the establishment of the new Visitor Services Centre constituted main topics on the agenda of the inaugural meeting of the new term of office of the ICEAH Council (2022-26) organized on 19 December in Oświęcim.
The meeting was inaugurated by the visit to the Museum and the new Visitor Services Centre under construction, being erected in the immediate vicinity of historical site of the Memorial thanks to the support of the European Union and the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage. The project made it possible to save the historical building, within which a butchery and creamery were situated during the period of camp operations.
Thanks to the subsidy from the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage as well as the support of Ronald S. Lauder and Joel and Ulrika Citron, a modern three-storey hostel is being erected next to the new Visitor Services Center. It shall provide the accommodation for volunteers, interns as well as participants of longer study visits, conferences or seminars organized by ICEAH.
What is more, meeting participants had the opportunity to visit the renovated cinema hall within the existing visitors' center and watch the 8-minute film constituting the introduction to a visit at the Memorial. The film is available in 16 language versions, it was prepared thanks to the support of the Lewis Family Foundation and directed by David Conover.
Members of the Council also visited the new ICEAH seat, the premises of the so-called Old Theatre, commissioned directly before the outbreak of the pandemic. Its modern education halls, exhibition spaces, a library and reading room together with conference halls make it possible to conduct extensive educational activity, enabling in-depth understanding and reflexion on the significance of the tragedy of victims of German Nazi concentration and extermination camp.
At the beginning of the first part of the session, on behalf of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Culture and National Heritage Prof. Piotr Gliński, Head of the Ministry’s Department of Culture and National Heritage Radosław Jaśczak handed over the certificates of appointment to ICEAH Council members.
Dr. Tomasz Kranz, Director of the State Museum at Majdanek was appointed Chairman of the Council.
During the meeting, Council Rules and Regulations were adopted, describing in details the principles of its functioning. Andrzej Kacorzyk, ICEAH Director, presented the report concerning the activities implemented by the Center during the last two years.
Director Kacorzyk summarized the work of his team during the extremely difficult period of the Covid-19 pandemic. He presented new forms of educational activity whose creation was motivated by the pandemic as the Memorial remained closed for visitors.
Members of the Council had the opportunity to learn more about the application enabling an online visit of the Memorial created by the Museum in cooperation with the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation as well as Israeli companies AppsFlyer and Diskin, a series of podcasts entitled “On Auschwitz” dedicated to the history of the camp, new offer of workshops and multimedia presentations for young people, constituting an important component of study visits at the Auschwitz Memorial as well as about new online educational content preparing for a visit at the Auschwitz Memorial and complementing it.
What is more, Director Kacorzyk informed Council members about the modifications introduced into permanent exhibition due to the pandemic, the latest temporary and travelling exhibitions as well as about the general concept for the new Polish exhibition, currently under preparation.
An important element of his presentation consisted in emphasizing the role of volunteers in ICEAH activities as well as the role of institutions providing the Center with support.
Prof. Grzegorz Berendt expressed his appreciation for the efforts undertaken by the team of the International Center for Education about Auschwitz and the Holocaust as well as guides: “The scope of your work is impressive. The multitude and diversity of your initiatives is beyond compare”.
The International Center for Education about Auschwitz and the Holocaust was established in 2005 and constitutes an integral part of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum. It is involved in education about the history of the Holocaust and the German Nazi concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. It educates about the tragic fate of the Jews, Poles, Roma, Soviet prisoners of war and the fate of all other groups of Victims incarcerated and murdered at Auschwitz.
COUNCIL OF THE INTERNATIONAL CENTER FOR EDUCATION ABOUT AUSCHWITZ AND THE HOLOCAUST
Dr. Tomasz Kranz – Director of the State Museum at Majdanek - Chairman
Dr. Grzegorz Berendt – Director of the Museum of the Second World War
Dr. Vojtěch Blodig – Deputy Director of Pamiatnik Terezin
Deborah Hartmann – Director of the Wannsee Conference House
Monika Krawczyk – Director of Jewish Historical Institute
Olivier Lalieu – Mémorial de la Shoah
Irina Scherbakova – Memoriał Association
Albert Stankowski – Director of the Warsaw Ghetto Museum
Dr. Mateusz Szpytma – Deputy President of the Institute of National Remembrance (IPN)
JoAnna Wasserman – United States Holocaust Memorial Museum