Meeting VI: 20-21 January 2003
The International Auschwitz Council met in Warsaw on 20-21 January. The subject of the debate were issues connected with the former extermination and concentration camps, especially Auschwitz-Birkenau, Belsen and Treblinka. The Council heard a report on the provisions of Stage II of the Government Strategic Oswiecim Programme and discussed the present and future educational mission of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum.
The Council heard a report for 2002 by the Director of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum and criticised unfair and sensationalist information contained in some press articles describing an alleged rapid and total ruin of the museum facilities at Auschwitz-Birkenau. The members of the Council expressed hope that the construction of the new memorial at Belsen would be completed quickly.
The Council adopted unanimously two resolutions. The first concerns the memorial of the Treblinka camp, which claimed over 900,000 victims, almost exclusively Jews, including virtually all of Warsaw's Jews. On the eve of the commemorations of the sixtieth anniversary of the Uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto, it is highly disturbing that in Treblinka today there is no information kiosk, nor toilets, nor even a roof beneath which the tens of thousands of pilgrims and tourists arriving there each year can shelter from the rain. There is an urgent need to create the necessary facilities to permit a proper visit by the many visitors to this tragic site. The Yad Vashem Institute placed itself under an obligation to create a new exhibition in Treblinka in cooperation with, among others, the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw.
The second resolution is intended to underline the educational role of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum. Throughout the year the museum organises numerous courses and seminars for teachers, students and pupils from Poland and from many other countries all over the world. The Council acquainted itself with a government plan to set up an International Centre for Education in Oswiecim, and expressed the hope that the Centre will serve as an expansion of the existing museum structures on the basis of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum's library and archives. This question was the subject of the second day of the meeting, to which distinguished experts on this subject and political decision-makers were invited.