Meeting XIV: 4-5 July 2007
The International Auschwitz Council held its 14th session at the Center for Dialogue and Prayer in Oświęcim on July 4-5. Director Piotr M. A. Cywiński opened the meeting with a report on the operations of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum from January to June 2007.
The next point on the agenda concerned countries that wish to create their own national exhibitions at the Museum. After a discussion, the Council supported the recommendation of the Museum that the thoroughly outdated Bulgarian exhibition be removed, and accepted, without reservation, Greek plans for a national exhibition. It also suggested dismantling the exhibition by the former Yugoslavia and dividing up the space between interested successor states.
In the case of Croatia and Ukraine, the Council expects to make concrete decisions only after those countries have presented the Museum directorate with detailed preliminary concepts for their exhibitions. One important issue will be a more precise articulation of the criteria according to which some Auschwitz victims are to be regarded as prisoners of Ukrainian origin.
The Council stressed that countries proposing national exhibitions will not be permitted to remain silent about cases in which their people or uniformed formations collaborated with the Nazis, especially in the extermination of the European Jews—as has been the case in other newly opened exhibitions.
The Council indicated that the shortage of exhibition space makes it impossible for the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum to agree to requests from other countries wishing to set up national exhibitions. Alternative forms of commemoration could possibly be considered in relation to other groups of prisoners, such as those deported from Norway.
For this reason, the Council expressed its full support for efforts by the Museum to obtain part of the Unterkunftsgebäude as storage space for some collections, in order to free up additional, valuable space at the Auschwitz I-Main Camp site for various exhibitions.
The International Auschwitz Council also examined the concept developed by Wacław Długoborski, Teresa Świebocka, and Teresa Zbrzeska for a new permanent exhibition at the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum. The Council passed the following resolution:
The International Auschwitz Council has examined the work on the new Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum main exhibition, acknowledges the great effort made by the authors, and accepts the general principles. The Council emphasizes the need for substantial preservation work in the blocks intended to house the new exhibition, with the goal of maintaining the authentic architectonic substance to the highest reasonable degree. After examining the general principles, the Council expects a detailed scenario of the exhibition. The Council appeals to the Polish State to allocate the essential funding for this priority task. It also calls upon the governments of other countries and all people of good will to support this great educational task.