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The More I Know the Less I Understand - a publication of the ICEAH and The University of British Columbia


The More I Know the Less I Understand is a joint publication of International Centre for Education about Auschwitz and the Holocaust and The University of British Columbia in Vancouver, which includes selected essays of students who participated in three editions of the research seminar “Witnessing Auschwitz – Conflicting Stories and Memories” organised by the Auschwitz Memorial.


The publication includes 20 essays, which are the result of students’ research work conducted during the seminar at the Museum, and which will help future students and project participants to be better prepared for the visit to the Auschwitz Memorial. The publication also aims to disseminate knowledge about Auschwitz and the II World War and serve students who for various reasons will not be able to participate in the project and study trip to Poland.

The students’ research work is an interdisciplinary project that concerns different fields of study among others, history, sociology, psychology and economics. They also cover a broad range of topics related to various aspects of the history of Auschwitz, as well as the current functioning of the Memorial and today’s reception of the Holocaust.

- It is an extraordinary privilege and great pleasure to see the students develop their research skills under the guidance of the best specialists, and such they have at their disposal at the Museum. They also learn that many questions concerning the Holocaust do not and should not have answers. And that it is due to misconception, that the topic is still current and valid, despite the passage of years. The book containing the works of students show how young people, those who will live in a world without direct witnesses, are preparing to transfer their experiences and messages to future generations. I am very grateful to the Museum and the ICEAH for this publication - said co-author of the project, prof. Bożena Karwowska.

- So far. more than 80 students have participated in all the editions. During the lectures, workshops or individual consultations with the Museum's staff, almost everyone emphasized how important it was for them to stay in the Museum and interact with the authentic space of the Memorial, as well as how unique and personal the experience was. With such a selection of thematic essays presented in the publication we would like to underline the diverse research interests of students, and also highlight their sensitivity to the complex aspects of the history of Auschwitz. In this context, the publication is also an irrefutable proof of the need for this new, fully complementary model of education. Proper preparation for participation in the program, the content of the historical message, but above all the possibility to personally experience the authenticity of the Memorial inspires young people to take up independent creative work - said Marta Berecka, responsible for Educational Projects of the ICEAH.

The release of the publication marked the end of this year’s seminar, which was attended by over 40 participants. It was the fourth edition of the project, during which students from various fields of study, including a course on the psychological aspects of genocide, became familiar with various aspects related to the history of the German Nazi concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz. The extensive program consisted of several thematic blocks and covered more than 80 hours of workshops, lectures, presentations and lectures. The students had the opportunity to deepen their knowledge of the history of the camp through study tours, including the reserve blocks. An important part of the seminar program was the meeting with a witness, viewing of the exhibition Images of Memory: Labyrinths of Marian Kołodziej and familiarity with the topography of Auschwitz III-Monowitz. As in previous years, students conducted their own tests, which are the basis for the preparation of individual research projects related to the history of Auschwitz and the Second World War.

- During the seminar, I observed how learning in an authentic historical space affects young people. The visit to the Memorial was not only an opportunity for them to acquire knowledge, but also for deep, personal reflection. I am confident that the stay in Poland will not only affect their academic work but also their outlook on life - said Katarzyna Odrzywołek, coordinator of the seminar for ICEAH.  

One of the participants of the seminar, Jae Hyun Kim, said: - The subject that I am particularly interested in during my history studies, is how different communities transfer and interpret past events in the context of the present. Especially now that globalization has led to the rapid dissemination of information and easy access to it, communities must learn a lot about the past of other nations and ethnic groups regardless of their historical and diplomatic distance. I also speak on the basis of my experience as a person born in South Korea.

As Kaitlyn Tissington-Turner claims: - The opportunity to visit Auschwitz and participate in the educational program will remain with me forever. I have completed several courses on the Holocaust, but nothing was able to prepare me for this visit and its impact on my life.

According to Ellyn Hill: - Participation in the program was an opportunity for me to broaden my view of the world of history and myself. The opportunity to learn at the Memorial has opened my eyes to the many dilemmas faced by Museums and Places of Memory, which I did not realize before. I am immensely grateful for the chance to work with the Museum's researchers.

The seminar is part of the monthly educational project, in which Canadian students also visit Cracow, Warsaw and Białystok, where the get to learn the culture and history of Polish Jews during the interwar period, and II World War.