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OWICIM

I S SN 1 89 9- 44 07 SSN 1899- 4407 N 8999

CULTURE

PEOPLE

no. 20 August 2010

HISTORY

OOwicim, People, History, Culture magazine, no. 20, August 2010

EDITORIAL BOARD:
OOwicim, People, History, Culture magazine

EDITORIAL
The number of visitors to the Auschwitz Memorial in the last decade has increased threefold. Last year saw another record1.3 million people, mainly from abroad, visited the Museum. In the near future, the adjacent bus station will be transformed into a new visitors center. In the competition to develop this plan, KKM Kozie Architekci was awarded rst prize. Here you can see what the modern reception base will look like. which was held at the former Birkenau camp on August 2the anniversary of the liquidation of the so-called family camp for Sinti and Roma. We also recommend reading the interview with Piotr Kadlik, President of the Union of Jewish Communities in Poland and member of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation Council. teous, whose scholarship winners American teacherswere hosted in Owicim during their two-week study trip to Germany and Poland.

Editor: Pawe Sawicki Editorial secretary: Agnieszka Juskowiak-Sawicka Editorial board: Bartosz Bartyzel Wiktor Boberek Jarek Mensfelt Olga Onyszkiewicz Jadwiga Pinderska-Lech Artur Szyndler Columnist: Mirosaw Ganobis Design and layout: Agnieszka Matua, Grakon Translations: David R. Kennedy Proofreading: Beata Kos Photographer: Pawe Sawicki

We also recommend the reective article written by a young volunteer for the Center for Dialogue and Prayer, Max Sundermann, and we invite you to the events connected with the 10th On the pages of the International anniversary of the Jewish Center in Youth Meeting Center you can read Owicim. about the visit of the new volunteers In this O, we also cover of the com- from the Action Reconciliation Service Pawe Sawicki memoration of Day of Remembrance for Peace to memorial sites, as well as Editor-in-chief for the Extermination of the Roma, the Jewish Foundation for the Righos@auschwitz.org.pl

A GALLERY OF THE 20TH CENTURY


Our Owicim river park! Once, the only place of recreation on Sundays for the inhabitants of our city. A green, ecological breath with an additional serving of clean Soa water! Every Sunday, in the summer months, under almost every big and small tree in the river park, on the blankets, with food and drinks, families from Owicim camped out. On the small knolls and groves, on the banks of the river, we all enjoyed the sun, water, and freedom during the hard times in the general poverty and oppression. The river park slowly became civilized. In some lanes, there appeared benches, some small and primitive points of handmade gastronomy. In the vicinity of the stadium stood a wooden dance platform, and there never was a lack of those willing to dance to live music or from an album played! Beer wasnt poured nonstop, because those werent those times... The kings were lemonade and orangeade in a so-called Krachelaa bottle that was closed with a rubber seal, pressed to the opening with a well-thought out wire mechanism. Season opened fully with the May 1st festival, full of unique May Day goods and pleasures. In the river park there were sometimes quarrels and ghts, but civil police from a nearby Jagieo Street intervened quickly and effectively. Without shouting and the choir of singing in the streets, was something the returning partiers obviously could not do! Disturbing the stillness of the night was threatened with serious sanctions, but the First of May was the only night where this was not enforced. The 1950s. A time of great plans and the building of SocialismNowa Huta! together with the pinnacle of slavery and repression. Years of state holidays and celebrations, joyful parades, festivals, and dances. Entertainment for those days and that culture. Of course, all under the watchful eye and supervision of the socialist authorities of order and security. Our river park in those years was a place of cultural entertainment, spontaneous fun, attractions for the working-class masses and folklore? To some extent, yes, as much as was possible at that time and to that degree. Thats the way it wasbecause it could not have been any other way!
Andrzej Winogrodzki

PUBLISHER:
Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum www.auschwitz.org.pl

PARTNERS:
Jewish Center www.ajcf.pl

Center for Dialogue and Prayer Foundation www.centrum-dialogu.oswiecim.pl

International Youth Meeting Center www.mdsm.pl

IN COOPERATION WITH:
Kasztelania www.kasztelania.pl State Higher Vocational School ol in Owicim www.pwsz-oswiecim.pl iecim pl Editorial address: O Owicim, Ludzie, Historia, Kultura Pastwowe Muzeum Auschwitz-Birkenau ul. Winiw Owicimia 20 32-603 Owicim e-mail: os@auschwitz.org.pl
Photo: www.kasztelania.pl

Photo from Mirosaw Ganobiss collection A Gallery of the 20th Century

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OOwicim, People, History, Culture magazine, no. 20, August 2010

Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

WINNER OF DESIGN COMPETITION FOR NEW VISITOR SERVICE CENTER AT AUSCHWITZ MEMORIAL ANNOUNCED
Photo: KMM Kozie Architekci

isitor Service Center. Materials: KKM Kozie Architects The results of the competition for the architectonic-urban design of the new Visitor Service Center at the Auschwitz Memorial have been announced. The contest aimed at developing a complex solution including a service center, hotel, parking facilities, and the accompanying infrastructure. Thirty submissions arrived by the deadline. The winner was the Cracow rm KKM Kozie Architekci, whose previous designs include the Przemyl Regional Museum and the Radio Koszalin building.
The award recognizes the subtle but expressive concept for the layout of the visitor service center, based on the idea of below-ground entry to and exit from the Museum, said Jolanta Bana-Maciaszczyk, head of the Conservation Department and a member of the competition jury. The jury felt that the overall composition and the proposed nature of the architecture combine to produce the feeling of calm and reection essential at a Museum of this type. Additionally, the design retains the historical appearance of the original camp slaughterhouse building and envisions the removal of later additions; the hotel building is designed as a neutral background for the original structure. Commenting on this important event, Museum Director Piotr M.A. Cywiski said that the new reception area will make it easier to receive and cater to the needs of visitors, whose numbers have tripled over the last decade and remain at a very high level. In 2009, 1,300,000 people came to the Auschwitz Memorial. Over 700,000 came from abroad. In many cases, this was the sole reason for them to come to the country. The worldwide remembrance of this most tragic episode in the history of Europe and the world cannot fail to inspire hope. Visitor Service Center. Materials: KKM Kozie Architects Relocating visitor services will also make it possible to create a new introductory exhibition in the original building that now serves as a reception facility. That exhibition is intended to provide visitors with essential knowledge about the history of the 1930s, the rise of Nazism, propaganda, and the totalitarian system, and nally the start of the war and the German policies in occupied Poland. The International Auschwitz Council has approved the construction of the new visitor center at the site of the PKSiS bus garage, and nancing is possible thanks to exceptional support from the Ministry of Culture and Visualization of the Visitor National Heritage. Ground Service Center should be broken next year. The rst stage envisions the loundry building of the forrenovation and adaptation of mer Auschwitz I camp until the original camp slaughter- August 31. house and dairy buildings. All competition sumbmissions can be watched in the Pawe Sawicki
Photo: KMM Kozie Architekci

Visualization of the Visitor Service Center

Results of the competition for the architectonic-urban design of the new Visitor Service Center at the AuschwitzBirkenau State Museum.

CAMP SLAUGHTERHOUSE AND DAIRY BUILDINGS AND THE SURROUNDING GROUNDS


Before World War II, ammunition bunkers for the Polish Army barracks were located at the future site of the camp slaughterhouse and dairy buildings. The area belonged to Auschwitz Concentration Camp throughout the war. Initially, it was the site of the gravel pit where the Germans shot forty Poles on November 22, 1940. This was the rst execution by shooting in Auschwitz. The gravel pit site was designated in 1941 as the location for the camp slaughterhouse and dairy. These facilities underwent expansion until 1943. The task of the slaughterhouse was to supply meat and sausages to the SS garrison and the camp. Nearby were vegetable gardens for the SS and motor vehicle workshops, and part of the terrain was used to grow livestock feed. The Waffen SS and Police Central Construction Board in Owicim (Zentralbauleitung der Waffen SS und Polizei Auschwitz O/S) also used part of the site.

First Prize
KKM KOZIE ARCHITECTS Marek Kozie, Magdalena Kozie-Woniak, Katarzyna Kozie-Kornecka

Second Prize
Tomasz MAREK, Piotr Adamczewski, Krzysztof Koziorowski

Third Prize
STELMACH AND PARTNERS ARCHITECTURAL PRACTICE L.L.C. Lead designer: Bolesaw Stelmach Design partners: Marek Zarzeczny, Zbigniew Wypych, Rafa Szmigielski Collaborators: Jacek Grudziski, Krzysztof opucki, Konrad Opasaa, Micha Rakowski, Paulina Filas, Ryszard Siata

MAREK KOZIE KKM KOZIE ARCHITEKCI


It is a very important award for us. When we heard about this competition and yet we did not know the conditions we told ourselves that we want to do it, we want to make an effort because taking part in a competition dealing with such a delicate matter must be seen as a challenge. When you look at the subject itself, organizing proper visitors service, you must take into consideration the importance and size of the place. It creates a need for a delicate and subtle architectural design which does not interfere the original space. Our efforts concentrated on creating a certain mood through creating passagesentry and exit from the former camp. We wanted to create an opportunity for people who need some time to pass from hustle and bustle of the city and a parking lot to a completely different space. This long walk that ends with an

Distinction (ex aequo)


ATELIER LOEGLER L.L.C. Lead designer: Romuald Loegler Collaborators: ukasz Ruda, Piotr Woliski, Bogdan Pszonak, Anna Pszonak, Rafa Kos, Piotr Lutarewicz, Joanna Ostrowska (interior design), Karol Winiewski

Distinction (ex aequo)


PERBO-PROJEKT L.L.C. Concept designers: Piotr-Rudolf abowicz-Sajkiewicz, Andrzej Poznaski

Honorable Mention
A + U Przemysaw Szymaski

opening to the sky when you leave the visitors center through an underground passage gives time to create this inner mood of peace and adjust yourself to being in a completely different and unique place. Returning from the crematorium is equally importanta passage under the road and exit in a landscape closed with green space that is also opened to the sky. Those two elements are the key to our concept. We tried to minimize expansion of new building elements. That is why even the building that is scheduled for the second stage of the project, that is the hotel for volunteers, for us is an element that adds to this mood and closes the whole project instead of being a single architectural object. We also tried to design the building in the foreground, the visitors center, as a historical element close to its authentic condition because it is a relic of those terrible times. It was a difcult challenge as it was a different way of architectural thinking.

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Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

OOwicim, People, History, Culture magazine, no. 20, August 2010

THIS IS A PLACE YOU HAVE TO LEARN

iotr Kadlik, chairman of the Union of Jewish Religious Communities in Poland visited the Auschwitz Memorial. He also sits on the Council of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation, whose aim is raising funds to preserve the authenticity of the former Nazi German Concentration and Extermination Camp. Piotr Kadlik met with the director of the Museum, Dr. Piotr M.A. Cywiski and visited the conservation workshops.
daughter asked when I brought her here when she was about thirteen. Moreover, a few people were very surprised that I did that. One of the rst questions she asked was whether they lived here by themselves, or were they also here with their wives and families. Well, after nding out more and more, for example, where Hss lived, where his family lived, that they were so close to the crematorium, the entire time you wonder how this could be? What must be done to a man? Perhaps nothing needs to be done? Maybe people have such layers of something that makes it possible to kill in suitable situations, because he believes that hes carrying out difcult, valuable work? Auschwitz is regarded worldwide as a symbol of the Holocaust. Since the establishment of the Memorial in 1947, the sites of the former Nazi German Concentration Camp of Auschwitz have been maintained by the Polish state. Sometimes you can hear voices saying that this place should be administered by the Jewish community. What is your opinion on this matter? This is complete nonsense. Many Jews were killed here, but that does not mean that Poles, Roma, Russians and others did not die here as well. This type of thinking is wrong. The Jewish communitywho is that? The Jews of Israel, Jews of Poland, Jews from the United States, maybe some sort of a council? I cannot imagine that. I believe that a solution where the Memorial Site is cared for by the state, not local or other governments, is important. I believe that there are countries that have very strong moral obligation to look after this place. It happened on Polish territory, and Poland has both a right and an obligation because this is intertwined with it, to take care of this place. How-

Piotr Kadlik

Youre the President of the Union of Jewish Religious Communities in Poland, and for some time you have been a member of the Council of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation. The Jewish Community also helps the Foundation by providing it ofce space. Why was it that you agreed to join the board of the Council of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation? Piotr Kadlik: For me it was just obvious. I am deeply convinced that to preserve this place and, more importantly, to preserve the memory of what happened here, is fundamentally important. From what perspective? You can approach this from very different angles. I can approach this from a purely selsh motive, as a Jew, a large part of my family perished either here or in Treb-

linka. Therefore, for me, preserving the memory, in a sense, is preserving the memory of the Jewish family. However, considering what happened here to the Poles, what those of many other nations experienced, and even the Russians, this is something that needs to be remembered. You are a frequent visitor to the Auschwitz Memorial and certainly you experience this place differently than the average visitor. What emotions and thoughts accompany you during these visits? My impression is that to go deep into this is impossible. I know one thing: each time I discover something new here. Sometimes I am here with friends, I can show them different things and talk about this, because I really try to be here. I try to remember; I try to learn as much as possible,

but I feel that learning about this place is a road without end. What lessons for today and tomorrow can be learned from this place? There can be many lessons. From the most obvious, though sometimes not clear to us, namely that it was possible to build and create something like this. Recently, I have thought quite a bit about: what must be done to a man that they come to the extermination camp like to work? I mean men who returned home after an eight-hour working daythe wife would pour a bowl of soup and ask, So, dear, how was work? Just as it happens today within any family in the world. And this gentleman, unbuttoned his uniform jacket, pulled off his cap and says, Oh it was a tough day. To which his wife says, Well, you do have a difcult job. They

sat down to dinner and this is an absolute mystery to me. I am able to understand the different types of momentary cruelty, done impulsively. Sometimes this leads to a crime, when the group becomes bloodthirsty, people who came to work, clocked in I dont know, if it was clocking in, but in reality he returned after eight hours to his wife, his children and said, Oh, it was a difcult day. Im not able to understand that, but when I come here, I try very hard to do so. It is very striking that a man could change his system of ethics and that work here became a perfectly normal, legitimate thing and that he did not experience any misgivings here. He just went home, talked with his wife, raised his children... Exactly. It was one of the rst questions that my

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Photo: pc

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OOwicim, People, History, Culture magazine, no. 20, August 2010

Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

ever, assistance and support from the countries connected to this, rst of all, the countries that are morally responsible for the fact that this place existed at all, this is one thing, and secondly help from countries that feel morally obliged because this ground is the cemetery of their own citizens. This commitment is one thing, and responsibility for the place is another. In the past it happened that this place has caused controversy, one example being the matter of the Carmelite convent. This was caused by a multiplicity of meanings Auschwitz hasit is an important place for Jews, but also for Catholics, Roma and others. Do you still manage to reconcile the multiple symbolisms and to avoid a conict of memory? I suspect that such conicts are likely to persist, because from time to time, different people do different things. Let us be frank: this will not change. I am a strong supporter that we watch this very carefully. Peo-

ple who were thrown into this place, where dressed in striped clothing, were rushed to the crematorium, or to workthey were not citizens of anything. They were not followers of different religions. They were a crowd of Hftlingen (prisoners) and that is why this place should not change. Here we remember these people. Since September 2006, the director of the Memorial is Piotr Cywiski. Much has happened since that time: a plan has been developed for comprehensive preservation and maintenance of the Memorial, work has started on the creation of a new main exhibition, and there is preparation to create a large permanent exhibition of camp art. Soon, in a new large building called the Old Theatre, International Center for Education about Auschwitz and the Holocaust will probably begin to work on a large scale. There are also plans to create a new visitors center. How do you assess the direction cho-

sen by the Museum administration? I think that this is the right direction. This is a gigantic task. Never has anything like this taken place, because taking into account the maintenance of what needs to be preserved, no one, as far as I know, has known how to do this, until now twentieth-century bricks and concrete have not been conserved. We have seen hundreds of toothbrushes in the preservation workshops... Who has the knowledge of preserving toothbrushes and plastic, which breaks down after sixty years? No one took this into account. I think that the current direction chosen by the administration of the Museum, trying above all on the one hand to maintain what can be preserved and do everything to make that happen, on the other hand to create a place where people who have less and less knowledge of the history of this place can come together, can talk, they can learnbecause, this is a place you have to learnthis is very im-

portant. I have known Director Cywiski for some time. I have talked with him many times about what is happening here. I nd that these are things that are very much needed. We talked about one thing which you did not mention, and it seems to me that it is worth bringing up, namely the perpetrators. We show the disaster, the prisoners and their misery, death, humiliation, etc. However, the executioners in this exhibition represent the passport photos, which look like they come from the albums of Cesare Lombroso. A person looks at it and sees some kind of monsters. And yet they were not monsters. They were normal people and I think this must be shown, because this is very easy to forget. When people look at these horrifying murders conducted by the SS in their elegant uniforms, people feel that they could not be able to do anything like this, but I, in my shirt, so pleasant and smiling, certainly not. In my opinion this

is very much missing and it should be shown, because here there was no need for any kind of Frankenstein. How do you assess the cooperation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum with the Jewish population in Poland, especially with the Union of Jewish Religious Communities in Poland? Basically, when Piotr Cywiski came to me when the Foundation was being created and said that it will need ofce space, I replied that of course I would ask colleagues on the board of the Community in Warsaw, because it is a democratic institution, but I could tell right away what the outcome of this conversation would be. If we are capable of doing sowe help. If we can do anything, we try to do it and I suspect that if the Museum returns to us asking for some help, if we can help, certainly no one will say noindependent of whether it be me or anyone else from our community.
Interview by Pawe Sawicki

AUSCHWITZ IN THE COLLECTIVE MEMORY OF POLAND AND THE WORLDSEMINAR FOR EDUCATORS
Auschwitz in the collective memory of Poland and the world. The role and meaning of remembering Auschwitz-Birkenau for Jews and Poles. Twenty ve educators from Israel took part in a twelve day seminar organized from 18-29 of July by the International Center for Education about Auschwitz and the Holocaust at the State Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau.
Among those taking part in the seminar were the staff of the Yad Vashem Memorial Instititue in Jerusalem, tour guides of their historical museum, tour leaders coming with Israeli youth to Poland, as well as educators from other Israeli institutions. The seminar program included, among others, a study tour of the former Auschwitz-Birkenau camps and those of the sub-camps at Jawischowitz, lectures and workshops dealing with the history of the German occupation of Poland, the history of Auschwitz, as well as issues of conict in Polish and Jewish memory, Polish-Jewish relations, and the history of the political and social situation in Poland after 1989. The seminar participants met Kazimierz Smole, former prisoner of Auschwitz. The guests from Israel took part in workshops in the Museum Archives, Collections Department, and Conservation Department. They also visited other memorial sites in Poland, among them, the former Beec Death Camp, where from March to December 1942 around 500 thousand people, mainly Jews from Poland, but also Jewish citizens from Germany, Austria, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic, were murdered. During the seminar, the ICEAH staff and Museum guides had the opportunity to exchange views and share experiences on the subject of education about Auschwitz and the Holocaust. In addition to lectures and visits to places associated with the history of Auschwitz and the Holocaust, the
Photo: ajus

seminar program also included visiting sites connected with Polish culture and history, such as: the Wawel Royal Castle, Wieliczka Salt

Mine, and the Warsaw Ris- witz-Birkenau since 1993 ing Museum. have hosted over 270 participating educators from The seminars organized by Israel. (ajus) the State Museum Ausch-

Opening of the seminar

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International Youth Meeting Center

OOwicim, People, History, Culture magazine, no. 20, August 2010

VISITS TO MEMORIAL SITES BY VOLUNTEERS OF ACTION RECONCILIATION SERVICE FOR PEACE

rom late June to the end of July 2010, visits to memorial sites took place for new volunteers of the Action Reconciliation Service for Peace (ARSP). During the three seminars, participants visited former German camps: Auschwitz-Birkenau, Majdanek, and Stutthof.
tion Reconciliation Service for Peace at the memorial site of the former concentration camp, whose aim was to work for the commemoration. In 1967 the rst Polish volunteers came to work together at the AuschwitzBirkenau Museum. Among them was also the poet and longtime director of the ARSP, Volker von Trne. The idea for the creation of Action Reconciliation Service for Peace in Owicim at the International Youth Meeting Center, was born at that time. Volker von Trne formulated it in 1967 in his essay entitled Youth between history and the future: The purpose of the International Youth Meeting Center will be to host young people from around the world and give them the opportunity to discuss, based on historical events, relevant issues relating to understanding and reconciliation between nations. Because without an awareness of history, which also includes knowledge about Auschwitz, Service for Peace is impossible. This year, the visits to memorial sites were from June 27 to July 3, starting with a seminar at Majdanek in Lublin and nishing at Stutthof near Gdask. The second seminar was held from July 25 to 31. The seminar at the International Youth Meeting Center took place from July 11 to 31. Aware that the consequences of National Socialism are still felt and can be overcome only through intensive dialogue, the ARSP strives for agreement between the generations, cultures, religions, and nations. Rooted in the Christian faith ARSP is trying to cooperate with all who are in favor of a more peaceful and fair world.
Anna Meier

The stays were organized and carried out, as every year, by Anna Meier, Deputy Head of Education at the International Youth Meeting Center in Owicim, along with volunteers from the memorials at Stutthof and Majdanek, and the International Youth Meeting Center in Owicim. The central point of seminars was the history of the Nazi extermination plans and the concentration camps connected to this policy. In addition to the historical teachings and reminders at the different memorial sites of the crimes committed there, the participants looked for connections to the contemporary world as well as their own identities, which is an important element in preparing young people to take up voluntary work with the ARSP abroad. Visits to the memorials are connected to the founding, over 50 years ago, of the Ac-

ACTION
The ARSP pursues its objectives through concrete action, that is, above all, the practical work of its volunteers who work in various social and political projects in 13 countries. This creates an awareness that people acting together are close to each other, learn to get to know themselves and others, to change and thus create something new.

SIGN OF PENANCE
The term Sign of Penance symbolically means to assume responsibility for the consequences of National Socialism. Nazi crimes that cannot be undone, nor can they be repaired. However, this can start the process of reconciliation.

SERVICE FOR PEACE


The ARSP is committed to a comprehensive and a just peace. In connection with this we take part in projects which are directed at the discrimination against people because of their religion, political views, national or social origin, race, language, physical appearance, sexual orientation and identity, age or gender.

Photo: IYMC

Fot.

ARSP volunteers

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OOwicim, People, History, Culture magazine, no. 20, August 2010

International Youth Meeting Center

THE PAST HAS CAUGHT UP WITH ME

ne of the participants of the IYMC project, Jan Phillip Hamm, future volunteer of the Action Reconciliation Service for Peace in the United States, wrote about his experience and feelings:

More than 60 years separate the present from the past of National Socialism. Years full of breakthroughs and developments. At sites where people of different origins, because of their religion or political activity were forced to live together, denied human dignity, museums and memorials were created.

a guide or our own knowledge uncovering their historical background. Each subsequent experience during the visit to the camps, lectures on the economic objectives of the National Socialists and the role of prisoners in this context as well as while exploring the city of Owicim, allowed us to imagine a contemporary diThese important places mension of those events. caused the past to come back to life inside of me, hidden At the same time we were acfeelings and perceptions that companied by a feeling that, I had no idea existed before. on the one hand we were apPerceptions were created proaching a complete underby the stimulating, buoyant standing, but on the other, words of the speakers who that desire was hindered led the seminars, which al- each time by the limited poslowed me to understand the sibilities of our imagination. enormity of that past, but We were enveloped by the none of us were able to re- inevitable and unrelenting produce images of that time experience. Intense emoin our minds. tions surrounded us and constantly affected us at all When most of our group points during the program tried to nd the causes of the and in all places marked by Holocaust or in any way try- the history. ing to understand this phenomenon, I reminded myself It was simply impossible that that this requires an active at the former Auschwitzimagination, which was not Birkenau Death Camp the given to anyone in any way. history of those days in the During the tours of the Main Camp, Auschwitz I, and Birkenau we were confronted with the genuine reality of those times. In addition to the barbed wire surrounding both the camps and the watchtowers, there is nothing in the form of concentration and extermination camps that indicated cruelty. Individual buildings standing close to one another form a peaceful complex of buildings. Both the grass and the trees gave the area a gentle air of normality. Paved roads intersected each other, close to the brown houses. All of this produced a complex whose terrible past cannot be seen by looking only at its cold external shape. Only minds eye advances the grim reality to a dramatic, colorful image. An image that directly opened our eyes to the brutality and cruelty of that time period.

Photo: IYMC

ARSP volunteers

everyday life in AuschwitzBirkenau became more tangible, and yet more vivid. He told us about his life in the camp as a political prisoner in a poignant way, clearly outlining the living conditions and the resulting daily camp existence. At the same time, he spoke about the brutality of the Nazis against detainees and clearly demonstrated how he reacted to it. And again, the images presented were difcult to understand. They, however, left an impression on us, a shadow of what had happened here. After many memorable moments in Owicim we went to Cracow to learn about, on the one hand, about the history of city, and on the other, the fate of its Jewish community. During the

The former ghetto dwellings are currently inhabited. At the same time in Owicim, mainly in Monowice, you can make similar observations. Barracks inhabited by prisoners were demolished, building material was intended for re-use, or converted into chicken coops for example. Here, each one of you asks, how it was possible that objects of such historical value did not become places of remembrance. There has to be absolute agreement about their historical value. The Poles, however, continue their lives on land that belonged to their families before the Nazi invasion, land that was conscated from them, so they have treated this as a natural coexistence with history. We certainly

in the fact that we not only know our own history, but we have also experienced it and have seen it with our own eyes. Therefore, it is for usas Germanseasier to judge our common history, as well as to identify it. With the awareness of the many people who still have insufcient knowledge about the Nazi era, comes a challenge for me to fully commit myself and try to change this. With my experiences and impressions from Poland, I will return to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the United States and take up civil service at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh. In Pittsburgh, one of my tasks will be to educate people about the period of National Socialism and attempt to better their understanding of this topic. Thanks to my deep impressions and experiences, I am able to authentically share my knowledge of National Socialism and its consequences. Ultimately, my goal is to provide knowledge that comes from my own observations and experience in the hope that it will enrich others, thus beneting society as a whole. History for me is an expression of the present and future. We can learn from it to avoid such terrible consequences as the times of National Socialism. And even if we know the history well, we must be aware of the fact that the past can catch up with us again. And then we will make our mark on the endless course of history, and we will leave it as people who are more helpless in the face of the past than ever before, surprised by the arrival of what was considered impossible.

Photo: IYMC

ARSP volunteers

concentration camp could be reconstructed in peoples imagination. The actions of the Nazis were overly inhuman. Image of the inhuman actions of perpetrators, and the madness of their concentration camps created to murder thousands of people, stands in contrast to the abAs in this case, many times stract reality that becomes we felt that the objects per- clear at this historical site. ceived by our eyes were identied and grew in im- In an interview with the portance only through the prisoner survivor Kazimierz carefully chosen words of Smole, our ideas about

tour of the former ghetto and the surrounding camps, new experiences and feelings were added to those we had already had. However, there was a certain difference. While at Owicim buildings and objects from the era of National Socialism for the most part have been preserved, here in the majority they no longer exist. The former concentration camp near the ghetto was, without resistance by humans, absorbed by nature.

have to get used to dealing with history in this form; however, this context changes our general impression of Poland as a country that was fully affected by the Nazis. Both at the factual and human level, we have been enriched with such insights and experience. Exploration by the Germans of their own history, the history of their ancestors has led to a type of self-exploration that results

Jan Phillip Hamm Project: Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh

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International Youth Meeting Center

OOwicim, People, History, Culture magazine, no. 20, August 2010

HELPING AND REMEMBERING THE RIGHTEOUS


uly 21-25, 2010, for the fth time, we hosted a group of teachers of high schools and universities from the United States at the International Youth Meeting Center. They came to Owicim while on a two-week study tour of memorial sites in Germany and Poland.
The organizer of the educational program is Stanlee J. Stahl, vice president of the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous (JFR) in New York. Through the Foundation, people who rescued Jews during World War II, four times a year receive nancial support, which is important for these often ill, now elderly people. To help the Polish Righteous, JFR has already given $2,000,000. In addition to providing the nancial assistance, the Foundation is also active in preserving the memory of the Righteous and protecting their legacy through the implementation of the national education program about the Holocaust. The purpose of this program is to provide teachers with secondary and higher knowledge about the Holocaust and to provide them with materials that can be used in classes at their schools. This years program was attended by teachers from various U.S. states, including Florida, Texas, and Pennsylvania. The rst part of the program was a one-week training seminar at Columbia University in New York, in which participants enriched their knowledge about the fate of the Jewish community as well as the Holocaust. In addition to the comprehensive knowledge and numerous educational materials, prepared by Prof. Robert Jan van Pelt, who then accompanied the group during the study visit, they also received a list of books to read before leaving for Europe. The study visit began with Munichthe former cradle of the National Socialism. The group then went to the Documentation Center in Nuremberg, and followed the visit by going to: Weimar, Buchenwald, Berlin, Warsaw, Tykocin, Treblinka, Majdanek, Owicim and Cracow. July 18, the JFR organized a celebratory dinner at the Marriott Hotel in Warsaw for the Righteous Among the Nations from Warsaw. About 50 Righteous participated in the dinner, their families and guests of honor: Polish Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich, U.S. Ambassador Lee Feinstein, the Israeli Ambassador Zvi Rav-Ner, and the authorities of the Polish Society of Righteous Among the Nations. Each of the teachers from the U.S.A. had the honor to sit with several of the Righteous at their table. A visit to the AuschwitzBirkenau State Museum was the last point of the study program. During the four-day visit to Owicim, the American teachers visited the former Auschwitz I Main Camp, Birkenau, and Monowitz. There were also

HAROLD M. SCHULWEIS
The Jewish Foundation for the Righteous (JFR) was created in 1986 by Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis, in order to fulll the traditional Jewish commitment hakarat hatovsearch for and identication of goodness. For this purpose, JFR is committed in helping those Righteous Among the Nations who are in need. Often in difcult circumstances they gave help, without expecting any reward. Neither then, or now. But Rabbi Schulweis said that honoring and supporting the Righteous is our duty. At the beginning of its activities, the JFR nancially aided eight people who had helped Jews during the Second World War. But soon the number rose to 1,750. Now, when the Righteous are growing old and dying, the number of people who are supported nancially is declining, while the foundation continues to receive new requests from the Righteous who have been recently recognized by Yad Vashem. JFR currently supports over 900 people in 23 countries, including 450 in Poland. historical walks through Owicim, and in their spare time they could read publications and archival material related to the Holocaust in the library of the IYMC. The next group of teachers from the U.S.A. will come to Polandas Stanlee J. Stahl guaranteesin July 2012.
Olga Onyszkiewicz

Study visit participants

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Photo: IYMC

OOwicim, People, History, Culture magazine, no. 20, August 2010

Center for Dialogue and Prayer Foundation

A YEAR IN OWICIM

efore my arrival in Owicim, most of the information I had about this place came from school history lessons. I knew the pictures of the mountain of hair, piles of shoes and suitcases, I knew the words Arbeit macht frei above the gate in the main camp, the crematoria in Birkenau and Death Gate. All these images gave me a picture of a place that could not really exist. The cruelty that took place on this earth was inconceivable for me and knowing what my countrymen did to the Jews, Roma, Poles and other nations across Europe, is for me a great burden.
This is why, since October 2009, I work in the educational department of the Center. My main duties at the Center include accompanying groups arriving for study visits in Owicim. I carry out the organizational meetings with them, at which I present the general issues related to the history of the camp, the town of Owicim, as well as the present mission, which the Center for Dialogue and Prayer does in this place. I help in the preparation of programs for groups and meetings with survivors of the Holocaust. I thought being here and seeing the former camp with my own eyes, the existence of this place would be more understandable to methat I would understand how all this was possible. I thought I had an idea how many people died here. The gures given in my school textbooks have been unimaginably high. Now, after almost a years stay in Owicim I know that being here does not make it at all easier to understand. I came here to get answers to my questions: How was this possible? How could Germany do this? How could people commit such terrible crimes without any regret? I learned a lot during this year and during this intense period, when I came in contact with the subject of the Holocaust and genocide in Auschwitz. It is denitely easier for me now to understand those times and the conditions that prevailed in the camp, but at the same time there were many other aspects that interested me. I am sure I will return home with even more questions.

Guilt for the crimes of the Holocaust is a very important part of German consciousness after World War II. The topic of the Holocaust is not only important for history lessons, but also during German language classes, social sciences, religion, as well as in music and art. In many German cities there are monuments dedicated to the people who were sent to concentration camps. In my hometown, which is not too large, there is an organization that searches for Jewish families that had lived there before the war. Since 2004, the monument in the heart of Berlin commemorating the murdered Jews of Europe provides tangible proof that even the second, third and fourth post-War generations still feel responsible for the events of the past. In the eyes of many people, Auschwitz has become a symbol of all the evil associated with the National Socialist regime. Often, when talking about the Holocaust, in one breath the name of Auschwitz is said, so for some time I have wanted to see this place. In 2007 and 2008, the youth organization from my town tried to organize a study tour to Auschwitz for young people. Local authorities subsidized the project, but in these cases the two trips were not held due to an insufcient number of volunteers. Twice I signed up for this trip and I also tried to nd more participants for the trip, so that it would come to fruition. And twice I was wondering why it was not possible to gather a group who would be willing to go to Owicim. However, I still wanted to go. After graduating from high school in the spring of 2009, I, like others my age, were bound to do military service. When I heard that it is possible to satisfy this obligation through a different service, such as a volunteer abroad, I signed up to work for the Center for Dialogue and Prayer in Owicim.

One of my tasks is also to guide groups around the city. I explain the history of this city, which in the past was not always associated with a concentration camp. Owicim is a really fascinating place. When I rst came here, I was surprised that this is basically a normal city. All the information that I acquired from books about Auschwitz, almost never mentioned the city. It seems that the image of Owicim, that people all One of the greatest experiover the world have is only ences while here was meetlinked to Auschwitz. Usu- ing former prisoners. I am

Photo: Private archive

Belonging to the last generation, which has had an opportunity to meet people who survived the horror of Auschwitz, I personally consider it a great responsibility. Once these people are gone, then we will bear the responsibility to inform younger generations about the greatest crime in human history. Witnesses are passing on the mission to my generation now and I am going to take this task and return with it to my home in Germany.
ally, when I talk about this, people from Germany simply cannot believe that this is an ordinary Polish town, where people live their lives, where they can have fun just like in any other city. Owicim wants to be like any other ordinary city, but due to its past will never be like other cities are. grateful that I still had the chance to get to know them. Belonging to the last generation, which has had an opportunity to meet people who survived the horror of Auschwitz, I personally consider it a great responsibility. Once these people are gone, then we will bear the responsibility to inform

Max Sundermann

younger generations about the greatest crime in human history. Witnesses are passing on the mission to my generation now and I am going to take this task and return with it to my home in Germany. Meetings with former prisoners have always been for me a very unique and moving experience and their openness and friendly attitude still surprises me. They never had any ill will towards me despite the fact that I am a German, a descendant of the nation from which the perpetrators came. Their openness, despite their terrible life experiences aroused great respect in me.

on what a person experiences here, and putting myself in this context can make one wonder: What would you have done? How would you have reacted?

I met so many different, interesting people here. Auschwitz was a place where more than one million people died. Today, Owicim is a place where foreigners are sincerely welcome. People from all over the world meet today in Owicim to commemorate the people who were imprisoned and who died in this place. Today, Owicim has become a place of remembrance and hope. This is how I will remember this The time that I spent there, I place. will denitely remember for Max Sundermann the rest of my life. Reecting

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OOwicim, People, History, Culture magazine, no. 20, August 2010

TO HONOR AND SWEAR ETERNAL REMEMBERANCE


uring the 66th anniversary of the liquidation of the so-called Familienzigeunerlager, family camp for Sinti and Roma in Auschwitz II-Birkenau, a ceremony took place on Day of Remembrance for the Extermination of the Roma. The ceremony was attended by several hundred people, among them former prisoners of Auschwitz and other Nazi camps and ghettos, Roma from Poland and those from abroad, government ofcials including Minister Elbieta Radziszewska as the representative of Prime Minister Donald Tusk, representatives of the European Commission, the diplomatic corps, directors and employees of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, and local authorities.

March 13, 1943, the Nazis took me here, to Auschwitz. I was arrested together with my parents and four siblings in our family home in Koblenz. It was here that I was tattooed number Z-2201, here I also lost my entire family. Out of my entire family, I was the only one to get out

of this hell, former Auschwitz prisoner Rudolf Steinbach told those gathered. I do not even go to a cemetery, because there are no graves of my loved ones, so that is why I come here to Auschwitz, because here at this huge cemetery lie the ashes of my parents and siblings.

The memory of the extermination of the Roma came out of the oblivion of World War II, but there still remains quite a bit to be examined, even the number of victims varies between different studies within several percent. This is an enormous challenge facing us all. We cannot allow this period, this genocide, to remain so unknown, said AuschwitzBirkenau Museum Director Piotr M.A. Cywiski. He also pointed out that history should be reected today in our own responsibility. If you observe the situation of Roma in the last decade in Europe, deep concern can be expressed. We are proud of the progress of uniting in peace within the borders of Europe, but the situation of the most excluded and most vulnerableamong them representatives of the Roma communityremains in very many ways a measure of our effort, the director Every representative of the said. Sinti and Roma minority in each country must get a chance to participate actively in society and the possibility of consciously protecting their rights, stated the President of the Council of German Sinti and Roma, Romani Rose. Citizens rights and minority rights are indivisible. Sinti and Roma have been living for centuries in European countries and their culture is an integral part of European culture. Discrimination and persecution of Sinti and Roma has to disappear forever from life in the nations of Europe, just as anti-Semitism must disappear. Only a partnership of minorities and nations can fully guarantee the achievement of equal rights as well as the peaceful life of the Sinti and Roma and the vision of a European home. We are here to pay tribute and swear eternal remembrance, to all those whose ashes were left here, whose spirit still watches over us
Photo: Tomasz Pielesz, ABSM Photo: Tomasz Pielesz, ABSM

Photo: Tomasz Pielesz, ABSM

Photo: Tomasz Pielesz, ABSM

and to give a clear commitment, that we, living today, will teach the next generations about these horrible, cruel times so that never again in any country, any land, any representative of the nation does not do this again, that which was then done in Auschwitz, Birkenau, Majdanek, Beec, in the Gypsy ghettos, and in all places where people were divided into better and worse, said Minister Elbieta Radziszewska. A day earlier, on the site where crematory pyres existed, next to the ruins of the crematorium and gas chamber V, in which on August 2, 1944, the Germans killed the last of the Roma prisoners, a granite plaque with the inscription in the Roma language was ofcially unveiled, commemorating the people killed there. To the memory of the men, women and children, who fell victim to the Nazi genocide. Here lie their ashes. May their souls rest in peace, we read.

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OOwicim, People, History, Culture magazine, no. 20, August 2010

Similar granite tablets with inscriptions in Polish, English, Hebrew, and Yiddish, are in symbolic locations at the Birkenau camp, including by the crematoria and places where the bodies of murdered were burned. President of the Association of Roma in Poland, Roman Kwiatkowski said in his speech: When I was a child my mother brought me to this place, she wept, remembering her mother, her father, her sisters, brothers, and cousins. Similarly, other Roma wept. Their loved ones were murdered here too. This place is sacred for us. We stand at the grave of our relatives, our ancestors. I saw the Jewish families who came here too. They wept like we did. We were brought together by this tragic fate. This place symbolizes the annihilation of the Jews imprisoned and murdered at Birkenau, but also in many other centers of mass murder. It also symbolizes the destruction of the Roma people. We shared a common fate. I would like to express my gratitude that precisely in this place, where the tragedy of our people took place, there is a lasting commemoration in the form of a memorial. I would like to thank Director Piotr Cywiski for supporting our efforts for inclusion of a tablet, commemorating the hell that befell our people during the rule of the Nazi regime. Being here, I think on the one hand about my relatives, on the other hand of those who share our fate. People who, like us, because of the shape of the skull, skin complexion, perhaps the shape of nose, and only for those reasons, were sentenced to death. Were sentenced to stop existing. And there was no problem to kill men, women, children, old people,

Photo: Tomasz Pielesz, ABSM

THE DAY OF REMEMBRANCE FOR THE EXTERMINATION OF THE ROMA FALLS


The Day of Remembrance for the Extermination of the Roma falls on August 2the anniversary of the liquidation at Auschwitz II-Birkenau of the so-called Gypsy family camp (Zigeunerfamilienlager). On the night of August 2/3, 1944, the Germans exterminated 2,897 Roma children, women, and men in the gas chambers of Birkenau. Overall, more than 20,000 Roma out of the total of about 23,000 deported to Auschwitz were killed in the camp. Today, at the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, in block 13, there is an exhibition commemorating the extermination of the Roma and it reveals the extraordinary dimension of Nazi genocide of the Roma in Nazi-occupied Europe. In the former Birkenau camp, in the BIIe sector, there is a monument commemorating the Roma victims, were wreaths were laid and those murdered were remembered.

to devote so much attention to this, so many forces, and so many resources, said Piotr Kadlik, chairman of the Union of Jewish Communities in Poland. He stressed the importance of maintaining the memory of the victims and the role the descendants of survivors play in this process. If we do not do this, if we do not take care to commemorate these places, those times, what happened then, in a couple of years no one will come here.
Pawe Sawicki

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Photo: Tomasz Pielesz, ABSM

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Jewish Center

OOwicim, People, History, Culture magazine, no. 20, August 2010

BRIDGE TO HISTORY

very year the Jewish Center in Owicim organizes an educational program, Bridge to History, that is aimed at foreign students and dedicated to history and to contemporary Polish-Jewish relations. This year ve students attended the program from the United States and one student from the U.K.

Photo: JC

Participants of the Bridge to History program

After a brief introduction at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York, the participants arrived in Poland, where they spent intensive three weeks. For most of them, it was the rst contact with our country, which had previously been associated primarily with the topic of the Holocaust. In the rst part of the program the scholarship participants were in southern Poland, where they visited both Jewish and non-Jewish Cracow historical monuments, including the newly opened Museum of Oskar Schindlers factory, where an exhibition Cracow Under Nazi Occupation: 1939-1945 is located. They also visited Kazimierz, Podgrze, Old Town as well as Wawel Royal Castle. In Kielce, they took part in a meeting with Bogdan Biaek, the president of the Jan Karski Association, after which the students took part in the

march remembering the victims of the Kielce Pogrom. The visit to the region was accompanied by a tour of the old Jewish towns including Chciny, Szydw, Chmielnik and Dziaoszyce. Next, the participants spent three days in Warsaw, visiting the former Jewish district and the site of the former ghetto. The program also included a visit to the Warsaw Rising Museum and the new Museum of Frederic Chopin. Free time could be divided between visiting museums and getting to know contemporary Warsaw. The next stop was d, the city of the nineteenth-century industrialists. Showing Polish-Jewish history from a slightly different perspective was the local Jewish cemetery, Piotrkowska Street; Manufaktura, where the museum of Izrael Poznaski factory is located, made a strong impression on the group.

In Owicim, the students visited the Jewish Center and Chevra Lomdei Mishnayot synagogue, the Castle and municipal Museum. Special attention was given to the study visit and workshop in Archives, Collections Department and the International Center for Education about Auschwitz and the

Holocaust at the AuschwitzBirkenau State Museum. At the Jewish community in Bielsko-Biaa, a meeting with the Chair, Dorota Wiewira, took place and in nearby Pszczyna the participants met the local Jewish cemetery keeper, Sawek Pastuszek. Particularly moving was the visit to the former

The program ended with tours of old Jewish towns in the south-western Poland: Tarnw, acut, Leajsk, Bobw, and Nowy Scz, where students met with Holocaust survivor Mr. Jakub Mueller, who comes each year from Sweden to spend the summer in his hometown and take care of the local Jewish cemetery. During the three weeks of the Bridge to History our students got to know a large part of Poland and its history, inextricably linked to the centuries-long presence of the Jewish people and their tragic fate during the Holocaust. In addition to the remaining, in various states, traces of the Jewish past, the participants saw the developing institutions and places connected with Jewish culture: the Jewish Community in Cracow, Warsaw and Bielsko-Biala, the Jewish Community Center in Cracow as well as the Tel-Aviv Deli in the capital. During the evening, discussions touched upon the not always easy episodes of the common history of Poles and

Photo: JC

Program participants during a meeting with Jakub Mueller

Nuhim Cukerman house of prayer in Bdzin, where Piotr Jakoweko, who together with his wife Karolina takes care of this unique place, guided the group.

In a Warsaw cafe TelAviv

Photo: JC

Walking with Jakub Mueller

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OOwicim, People, History, Culture magazine, no. 20, August 2010

Jewish Center ter

Jews, and did not underestimate the commitment of non-Jewish Poles, who selflessly dedicate themselves to preserving the memory of their Jewish neighbors. Special attention was devoted to our city and its residents who, by no fault of their own, were confronted with the Nazi past of the camp. Each day the program provided fresh discoveries and opportunities to confront their previous views based on new experiences. The purpose of Bridges was, and is, not to offer readymade answers, but to provide encour-

Maciek Zabierowski

Photo: JC

agement to ask even more new questions as well as to examine perspectives in the perception of Polish-Jewish and Jewish-Polish relations, both past and present. In summary of our scholarship program, the participants agreed that their visit was a very important experience that profoundly changed their view of Polanda modern country in the center of Europe, as well as of Owicima city with a long history as well as Jewish presence.

Meeting with former prisoner Zoa y

NEW WEBSITE OF THE JEWISH CENTER IN OWICIM

n the 10th anniversary of the creation of the Jewish Center in Owicim, a new website has been created: www.ajcf.pl.
In addition, work is progressing on a multimedia internet portal which will cover the history of Owicim Jews. Apart from the factual site, it will contain a rich photographic collection, interactive maps, including a virtual walk through Jewish Owicim, as well as video and educational packages. The project is funded by the Dutch Joods Humanitair Fonds.
ASz

The three main parts include: the Jewish Museum, Synagogue, and Education Center, which contain both historical information, photos, news, as well as a description of the latest proposals for education of the Jewish Center. All set in an attractive, transparent, and modern form. We cordially invite you to familiarize yourself with the new site.

PROGRAM OF EVENTS FOR THE 10TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE JEWISH CENTER IN OWICIM SEPTEMBER 5, 2010
12 p.m. Performance by young Israeli and Polish artists (Tal Alperstein, Raz Gomeh, Adam Gruba, Jakub Falkowski) Cooperation: Adina Bar On (Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, Jerusalem), Prof. Artur Tajber (Jan Matejko Academy of Fine Arts in Cracow) 5 p.m. Disposition performance by Adina Bar On (Israel) Location: 11 a.m. 12 a.m. 2 p.m.

SEPTEMBER 12, 2010


Workshop for kids led by Maciek Zabierowski. Synagogue without Secrets led by Dr. Artur Szyndler. What Was Oshpitsin? led by Dr. Artur Szyndler. Simultaneously Workshop for kids led by Maciek Zabierowski 4 p.m. Israeli Dance Workshop led by Awa Cybulska* 7 p.m. DJ Jungle Feelings (Warsaw Balkan Madness)* 8 p.m. Concert: Kroke* 9-10 p.m. DJ Jungle Feelings (Warsaw Balkan Madness)* *All events at Jan Skarbek Square, Owicim

5 Jan Skarbek Square, Owicim Event organized as part of the European Day of Jewish Location: Culture 2010

Free admission. All are welcome. All events are organized as a part of the Days of Owicim 2010.

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Historia

OOwicim, People, History, Culture magazine, no. 20, August 2010

PEOPLE OF GOOD WILL


FRANCISZEK UREK (1897-1945)
During the occupation, he was active in the underground peasant movement. He was one of the three-man Roch leadership cell in Biaa powiat. Later, he became its leader and played a large role in expanding that organization in the Land of Owicim. Employed as a postman, he knew the local people and knew whom to trust. In the course of his job, he also distributed the underground press. After the establishment of Auschwitz Concentration Camp, he became active in trying to save the people behind the barbed wire. He supported the relief effort and donated food to the organizer, Janina Kajtoch. On many occasions, he helped Auschwitz escapees by sheltering and feeding them at his home in Polanka Wielka, and then placing them in the hands of Peasant Battalions (BCh) couriers, who led them across the border into the General Government. In an effort to expand the activities of the SL Roch organization and make direct contact with other regions, he got in touch with the independence movement in Silesia. It turned out that the underground activists in that organization were Gestapo double agents. Thanks to them the Gestapo arrested Franciszek urek in March 1944. They rst took him to Bielsko, and then placed him in the investigative prison in Mysowice, which was run by the Katowice Gestapo. He underwent a brutal interrogation there. He managed to get word of what he had told the Gestapo to another prisoner in Mysowice, Kazimierz Jdrzejowski, one of the leaders of the Biaa Regional BCh. Jdrzejowski, in turn, used covert channels to warn his organization on the outside about ureks interrogation. This saved the lives of many people. Franciszek urek also sent several secret messages out of Mysowice prison to his wife, in which he advised her about what she should do in case of his death. The Gestapo sent urek to Auschwitz. On October 28, 1944, he was transferred to the Leitmeritz camp (now Litomice, Czech Republic). He died in 1945 at a camp somewhere in Germany.
Helena li

VESTIGES OF HISTORY
FROM THE COLLECTIONS OF THE AUSCHWITZ MUSEUM he Museum collection contains a few decorated ashtrays made by prisoners of the Auschwitz camp. Most of them were for the SS or functionaries, while others were created as a kind of thank you for the locals who provided help for prisoners.

wooden items illegally for

n connection to my work I frequently visit old houses and ask the owners about their history. Sometimes I have the possibility to peer into the attic, the basement, as well as other nooks. When I have to deal with a preWar house, my adrenaline level increases.
On my way to work in one particular house, I did not realize that a surprise awaited me there. When I entered the attic to see how the work was progressing, out of the corner of my eye I noticed, among the many objects lying around, a strange wooden box. My intuition did not disappoint me. The workers joked, When Mireks in his element, then the job is done. Carefully, I opened

FROM GANOBISS CABINET

Photo: M. Ganobiss archive

the box. It was empty, but inside, on the lid, I noticed a piece of paper that bore a stamp with a swastika dating back to 1942 as well as inscriptions in a gothic font. I asked the homeowner if I could buy the old wooden box in the attic. At rst he thought that I was talking about the old chest of drawers and declared that it is not for sale. He added that he also has an old radio at home, but it was also not for sale. But when I showed him what item I was talking about, he allowed me to take it free of charge. At home, I cleaned and preserved the box. I also started to search for information and wonder about what it could have been used for. I remembered having seen similar items several times at antiques markets, so it was most probably an ammunition box. I wonder if when I had access to other houses that contain various historical items, could I nd something them just like this one? I would certainly hope so, though it would be a bit worse if I could not get or buy the item.

Ashtray with gure of an owl

An ammunition box

The photograph shows a wooden ashtray with a gure of an owl that was found after the War in a house once inhabited by SS men. On the orders of the SS, prisonercarpenters made more of these small wooden objects: chess sets, wooden goblets, and decorative boxes. These types of things, like other works of art, were made by prisoners with the hope of another portion of soup, or simply not to get a beating for refusing to do this. But there were reasons as well. These miniature and meticulous items, through the roofers and electricians Kommandos as middlemen, were smuggled to Birkenau to bribe the SS there. Thanks to this, our fellow-female prisoners received a lighter work and had it better, former prisoner Bolesaw Jaromiski testies. It is highly likely that ashtrays like this with gures of other animals were also created. It is known that in a persons private collection there survives an ashtray from the camp in the shape of a dog. A narrow circle Mirosaw Ganobis of trusted people made

people who helped prisoners in Auschwitz. Stanisaw Hantze, Auschwitz prisoner, recalled an ashtray after the War, known today only from the testimonies, meant for Irena Ptaszyska, who lived in Owicim and was involved in helping prisoners: It was probably 1942, when the inmates of my Kommando tried to get a wooden ashtray, which was of course secretly carved by one of the prisoners. ... The gift came from a larger group of prisoners who beneted from help provided by Ms. Ptaszyska. We wanted to somehow acknowledge this offering. ... Well, on the back to the ashtray the numbers of the prisoners from our groups were engraved. For the safety of the prisoners, it was agreed that the numbers were carved in the form of a spiral that, at rst glance, looked just like a geometric pattern. After the war, the ashtray was in the possession of Irena Ptaszyska.
Agnieszka Sieradzka Collections Department A-BSM

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Photo: agju

Born on September 1, 1897 into a peasant family in Polanka Wielka near Owicim, he was the son of Jan and Marianna, ne Noworyta. He nished three years of gimnazjum and a range of courses in agronomy and cooperative administration, and farmed in his native village. He married Franciszka Boba on June 23, 1925. They had two sons and two daughters. He became afliated with the peasant movement in his youth. He was active in the Wici Union of Rural Youth, and afterwards in the Peasant Party (SL), in which he served as powiat chairman in Biaa Krakowska.

OOwicim, People, History, Culture magazine, no. 20, August 2010

Photographer

PHOTO JOURNAL
Between September 18-25 the International Center for Education about Auschwitz and the Holocaust hosted 25 educators from Israel. They participated in a seminar titled Auschwitz in the Collective Memory of Poland and the World. Among the participants there were staff members of Yad Vashem Institute, guides from its historical museum, as well as educators from other Israeli educational centers. You can nd more information about their visit on page 5 of the magazine.

Photo: agju Fot. ajus

Photo: agju Fot. ajus

Photo: agju Fot. ajus

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Photo: agju

Photo: agju

Photo: agju

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