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"Memory is not synonymous with knowledge of historical facts". Debate about a book by Filip Müller in Amsterdam.


On the occasion of the publication of the Dutch translation of the book "Eyewitness Auschwitz: Three Years in the Gas Chambers" by Auschwitz survivor and Sonderkommando member Filip Müller, a meeting titled "A Culture of Genocide" took place on June 2 at the deBalie cultural center in Amsterdam. The conversation was between Dr. Piotr M. A. Cywiński, the director of the Auschwitz Museum, and a writer Arnon Grunberg.


The discussion was part of the European Culture Forum and served as a reflection on the condition of individuals subjected to the extreme world of the camps, the current challenges arising from memory, and how to utilize the lessons learned from the brutal past in shaping the future of Europe.

In the conversation summary, Director Piotr Cywiński emphasized that, in his opinion, memory is not synonymous with knowledge of historical facts. He stated, "It's not the same. You can learn history, dates, numbers, and the sequence of transports, but it is still not memory. Memory is something much more. It brings the past as a shared experience into our present times, to make us more reflective, more responsible, and to give us a kind of moral unease that affects our choices."

The entire conversation can be watched below.

Filip Müller (1922–2013) was born in Sered, Czechoslovakia (now southern Slovakia). In April 1942, he was deported to Auschwitz with a transport of Slovak Jews and was assigned to the Sonderkommando, a special work unit composed mainly of Jewish prisoners forced by the Germans to work in gas chambers, crematoria, and burning pits.

During the Death March, Müller was first taken to the Mauthausen camp and then to the Gunskirchen sub-camp, where he was liberated on 4 May 1945. In 1979, he published his memoir, "Eyewitness Auschwitz: Three Years in the Gas Chambers"

You can find more information about the history of the Sonderkommando in our online lesson.