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“Polish citizens in KL Auschwitz” – lesson and film about the fate of Polish citizens in the German Nazi Auschwitz camp


“Polish citizens in KL Auschwitz is the title of the educational project the main objective of which is to spread among young Poles reliable knowledge concerning the history and fate of the citizens of the Second Polish Republic incarcerated and murdered in German Nazi concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz. Official inauguration of the project took place on June 13th in the Janusz Korczak Hall in the Palace of Culture and Science in Warsaw, with Maciej Kopeć, vice-minister of national education, among its participants.


The authors of the project write: “The subject of German Nazi concentration camps and extermination centres remains one of the most important and at the same time toughest challenges to be faced by teachers in Poland – both when it comes to reliable presentation of the subject as well as encouraging the students to go deeper into the topic. We still lack factual materials connected with this field as well as model mechanisms for sharing them within the educational process”.  

„Nowadays, when history often becomes the subject of interpretation, there exists a particularly strong need to refer to facts and quote reliable historical sources. Current young generation should be aware of the tragic history connected with extermination centres during the Second World War”, said Dr. Piotr M. A. Cywiński, Director of the Auschwitz Museum. “This history should also be learnt through the fate of individual victims and heroes. This is of particular importance now, when there are less and less eyewitnesses of those dramatic times among us”, he added.  

The project consists of three elements: first, the educational documentary “Świadkowie” (Witnesses) directed by Mirosław Krzyszkowski, narrated by Marek Zając. It presents the portraits and fate of Polish citizens deported to the camp and incarcerated there – Poles, Jews and Roma – in the context of the history of Nazi Germany, the establishing and functioning of the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp as well as the entire German extermination and terror apparatus. Next elements of the project include an educational package together with lesson scenario as well as workshops for teachers.


“Lesson scenario prepared by the experts from the International Center for Education about Auschwitz and the Holocaust at the Auschwitz Museum was based on the fate of six young people”, said Andrzej Kacorzyk, Director of the International Center for Education about Auschwitz and the Holocaust. “They are Bogdan Bartnikowski, Czesław Kempisty, Zofia Łyś, Rutka Laskier, Edward Paczkowski and Marian Turski. The materials also include biographical notes and accounts of the following Auschwitz prisoners: Halina Birenbaum, Batszewa Dagan, Józef Garliński, Israel Gutman, Janina Iwańska, Roman Kent and rittmeister Witold Pilecki. The lesson thus tells the story of people who during the Second World War were in majority of the same age as the students”, Kacorzyk emphasized.

The film together with the educational package will constitute a compendium of reliable source-related knowledge on the fate of Polish citizens in KL Auschwitz. “We hope that discovering the facts included in the lesson as well as the value of its emotional message will become for young people the inspiration to discover tragic history of that times themselves, also in the contexts of their “little homelands” and family stories”, said Marek Zając from the Faith and Truth Foundation.

“The goal of the project is also to prepare the teachers from all over Poland to effectively realize the process of historical education. Both the documentary as well as the educational package will be translated into English and Hebrew, thus enabling their presentation beyond the borders of Poland and raising the awareness and knowledge concerning the fate of Polish citizens in KL Auschwitz throughout the world”, write the authors.

In the years 1940-1945, the Germans deported to the Auschwitz camp ca. 1.3 million people, including ca. 450 thousand citizens of the Second Polish Republic: ca. 300 thousand Jews, ca. 150 thousand Poles and ca. 1400 Roma.

The project was created thanks to the cooperation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum and the Faith and Truth Foundation. Production was funded by the Foundation for the Development of the Educational System within the program supporting the activities connected with national remembrance. Lesson scenario, worksheets as well as reflection cards can be downloaded below. Prezi presentation available here constitutes an integral part of the lesson.