Museum in the year of pandemic. Auschwitz Memorial Report 2020
Polish-English report summarizing the year 2020 at the Auschwitz Museum and Memorial was published. In his introduction, Director Piotr M. A. Cywiński wrote: „Worse than forgetting, is such a memory, that doesn’t arouse a moral anxiety within us.”
The report begins by recalling the commemoration event of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the German Nazi Auschwitz camp. It was attended by more than 200 Auschwitz and Holocaust Survivors and representatives from more than 50 countries. It was the last grant international event before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic and the worldwide lockdown.
Due to pandemic 2020 was a tough year. For the first time in its history, the Museum was closed to visitors for several months. The number of visitors to the Memorial dropped dramatically, so the Museum was deprived of its greatest source of funding. This led to almost a complete stop of educational activity in the historical space and a severe slump in the Museum’s budget, which resulted in the discontinuation of several priority investments and projects.
Thanks to exceptional aid provided by the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage and increasing their subsidies from PLN 25 to 31 million, the continuation of Museum’s basic activity was maintained together with workplaces.
84 pages of this Polish-English publication include the information on the most important events which took place last year at the Museum, the analysis of attendance of the Memorial, which was last year visited by 502 thousand visitors. This figure is almost five times lower than in the record-breaking 2019. The online conference “How to teach about Auschwitz and the Holocaust in the pandemic,” during which participants discussed the unprecedented situation and alternative methods of education became particularly significant.
In this period of the pandemic, many people used available online education forms. Interest in a virtual visit, using the panorama.auschwitz.org website, increased significantly and over 1,5 million people follow the Memorial’s official social media accounts.
Our most profound online educational resources are our online lessons. The main lesson on the history of Auschwitz is available in eleven languages (Arabic, Dutch, English, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Spanish, Persian, Polish and Portuguese). A total of 26 lessons in English and Polish are available at lesson.auschwitz.org.
Other subjects treated in the publication are conservation works conducted at the Memorial Site as well as activities of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation, collecting funds for the financing of these works, new publications, directions of research works, new exhibitions and exhibitions which are being developed as well as new items in Museum Archives and Collections. The Financial statement and the list of donors who supported the Museum constitute another crucial element.
„It is difficult to predict further developments in this respect. We extend our sincere gratitude to every person, institution and organization that has supported us financially in this difficult situation. The Museum still faces a very uncertain financial situation. Therefore, we continue to ask for your help and support for our mission: donate.auschwitz.org,” we read.
The texts are accompanied by photographs presenting the most important events at the Memorial Site together with the reproductions of artefacts and archival documents.
The report is published two days before the 76th anniversary of the liberation of German Nazi concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz.