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Session of the Auschwitz Museum Council


The main subjects discussed during the meeting of the Council of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum on 4 June 2024 were the commemoration of the 80th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and the development of online guided tours.

The Museum Director, Dr. Piotr M. A. Cywiński, presented a comprehensive report on the Memorial Site’s activities since the previous meeting and a detailed plan for the future.

One crucial aspect of the presentation was the announcement of the forthcoming commemoration of the 80th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. This significant event is set to take place on 27 January 2025, within a specially constructed tent positioned over the gate to the former Auschwitz II-Birkenau camp.

'The tender for constructing the entire infrastructure for this commemoration has been successfully awarded, also due to the substantial support provided by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage. This includes the main tent, the auxiliary tents and the press tent. We also plan to establish a television studio that will broadcast a special programme a few hours before and after the commemoration event. This program will be available to the public at no cost through satellite transmission and online platforms,' said Piotr Cywiński.

The central symbolic element of the commemoration will be the freight wagon, presently situated in the centre of the ramp at the former Birkenau camp. The wagon will be positioned in front of the Death Gate, and candles will be laid in tribute to the victims of Auschwitz.

In the context of attendance, which is gradually recovering to levels seen prior to the pandemic, the director also discussed the establishment of the new Visitor Services Center, which commenced operations last year, and the imminent opening of the hostel located in proximity, scheduled for later this summer.

'This will revolutionise volunteering and significantly enhance the organisation of different teacher conferences and other forms of comprehensive education. The construction of this facility was made possible through the combined support of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of Poland and generous contributions from private donors: Ronald S. Lauder, Joel, and Ulrika Citron,' said Director Cywinski

Prior to the meeting, council members had the opportunity to see the new Visitor Services Center and the hostel's interior.

Speaking on educational activities, the director underscored the importance of establishing the headquarters of the International Center for Education about Auschwitz and the Holocaust for the progress of education. Furthermore, he discussed the progress in the development of the online tour project titled "Auschwitz in Front of Your Eyes".

'This form of visiting is unique and cannot be found anywhere else in the world. With the assistance of two Israeli companies, a complete IT platform was developed from the ground up. A significant advantage of this particular tour form is the capability to incorporate multimedia content and encourage visitor interaction and questions. We organize tours both for organised groups and individual visitors who start the tour at set times,' said Piotr Cywiński.

'Numerous towns and local authorities are eager to adopt this tool to provide this innovative form of education to all students in their regions. To our surprise, this unique tour form has piqued the interest of schools, individuals, and companies. These organisations are now incorporating these sessions into their employee training and ethos-building initiatives. It's worth noting that the project is in a state of constant growth, thanks to the generous financial support of the United States and the Google Foundation,' added director Cywiński.

The director highlighted two significant developments, starting with the commencement of work on the concluding part of the New Main Exhibition. This phase has led to some remarkable discoveries, including unearthing camp chess pieces. Additionally, the New Polish Exhibition has been temporarily replaced with an exhibition that delves into the fate of Polish citizens in Auschwitz. He also spoke about the opening of another presentation of the travelling exhibition “Auschwitz. Not long ago, not far away” in Boston, which has received an overwhelmingly positive response from visitors.

Among the most important plans, Director Cywiński emphasised the significance of creating a new exhibition space in the camp kitchen building at former Auschwitz I camp, dedicated explicitly to showcasing camp art. He also announced next year's international educational conference, "Re(member): Is Memory in the XXI Century Enough?"

Concerning educational challenges, Director Cywiński also discussed the alarming increase in new publications that, despite their focus on the narratives of Auschwitz victims, are created without consideration for the historical facts of the camp.

'This is a matter that will continue to escalate in the future. We are trying to publicly expose the most prominent publications in the scope of their adherence to factual information. Unfortunately, this has a significant impact on the perception of Auschwitz. We have initiated discussions with numerous international institutions regarding this matter, acknowledging the immense challenge it presents for us,' emphasized Piotr Cywiński.

The director touched upon various subjects, including the new online bookshop and the Museum's activity in social media.

Director Cywiński also spoke about the conservation works at the former camp, which include preservation of the ruins of the gas chamber and crematorium III and one of the camp’s bathouse buildings. He also addressed the subject of preserving children's shoes, an initiative that was financially endorsed by the March of the Living.

In the context of conservation concerns, Director Cywiński also addressed a possibly significant discovery made at the construction site of the expressway, which is being built near the Auschwitz I site. According to media reports, a camp rubbish dump containing numerous objects belonging to the victims has been discovered at the site. However, the Museum has not received official confirmation of this information.

"The Museum Council unequivocally supports the Museum's stance that the archaeological objects associated with Auschwitz should, as a priority, be allocated to the Museum," - reads the Council's unanimously approved resolution.

Following a comprehensive review of the 2023 report and the plans for the current year, the Council of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum unanimously adopted resolutions that express a positive assessment and approval of the report and action plans.

The Council of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum (term of office 2021-2025).

Monika Krawczyk - Chairperson of the Council

Roman Kwiatkowski - deputy

Bogdan Bartnikowski

Dr hab. Grzegorz Berendt

Prof. Tomasz Gąsowski

Dr hab. Łucja Marek

Rev. Jan Nowak

Albert Stankowski

Beata Szydło

Michał Zajda