AUSCHWITZ-BIRKENAU

Museum Reports

Report 2015

Seventy years after the war, our contemporary world is increasingly troubling. We can all see and feel the rise in populism, xenophobia, nationalism, anti-Semitism, terrorism, and wars. The whole time we know well—all too well—what the blinding power of hatred leads to. That is why it is especially important that the younger generations, in particular, heed the insistent message of Auschwitz, of the tragedy of the Shoah and the concentration camps. These are the generations that will soon be making their own adult, life-changing decisions. They must know how to stand up to hate before it spirals again into a new hurricane of devastation among our societies. The former Nazi German concentration camp and extermination center of Auschwitz-Birkenau is today a space for remembrance and education through the experience of authenticity. We should give young people a chance to learn, understand, and choose wisely,

Files to download

auschwitz_report_2015.pdf
auschwitz_report_2015.pdf
Auschwitz Report 2015

Report 2014

There is no way to understand postwar Europe and the world without an in-depth confrontation between our idea of mankind and the remains of Auschwitz. A million and a half people—most of them young—passed through the grounds of the former Nazi German Auschwitz Concentration Camp and Extermination Center in 2014. This is a difficult immersion in humanity’s darkest hour. For us today it is a rite of passage. The great question remains: To what degree does this present-day rite lead to moral obligations in the spheres of community life, politics, culture? To what degree does it help us in our everyday human choices? This report is a tale of people who chose their own answer to that question. They have given of their time, their strength, their emotions, and their hopes to grapple responsibly from day to day with this dreadful Place of Truth. So that it is possible for millions of other people to have their own rite of passage. 

Files to download

Report 2013

This place is impossible to ignore. It is a turning point in human history. Nothing that preceded it will ever return. Ethics, morality, law, faith, science, enlightenment, positivism, all died here... A Man lost his sense of innocence that he cherished and found so comforting. If there is a necessary rite de passage that every man and woman should complete, this rite is walking through the remnants of Auschwitz. Everyone should experience their personal comprehension here. There is even more to that experience, for they should also feel the burden of their own present responsibility. Next year we will be celebrating the seventieth anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. We will then tell those Last of the Survivors among us that their words are rooted in our memory. We will also reassure them that the relics of their hell—Human traces and testimonies—are safer now than they have ever been before. This is possible thanks to the support of governments and people to whom the future is not indifferent.

Files to download

Report 2012

Geheimnisträger, the bearers of secrets. This name was applied to a special group of prisoners in the camp. Above all, to those who had seen with their own eyes the heart of the Holocaust, the Sonderkommando prisoners who operated the Auschwitz‑Birkenau crematoria. Prisoners in this category, separated from the others, were sentenced without exception to be murdered after finishing their work. In this way, no part of the grim secret would escape to the outside world. The Geheimnisträger were supposed to be the last link in the chain of memory. After them, nothing evermore. Silence. The plan failed. People survived and gave testimony. Today, thanks to their words and also to the original extant remains of the camp space, we remember and we try to understand. The knowledge we have obtained imposes a fearful obligation on us. Today, in a certain way, we are all Geheimnisträger, and what future generations will know, remember, and understand depends on us-exclusively on us. Let us bear witness to the truth.

Files to download

Report 2011

To postwar Europe, Auschwitz became a permanent reference point that fully justifies the entire postwar effort at creating a different Europe that is new, more human, and sensitive. Today, when there is so much talk about the crisis of Europe, it is worth remembering this. Not everything is yet won and nothing lasts forever. Contempt and hatred can be reborn out of every frustration. Today in particular we must review again the lesson flowing from the words Arbeit macht frei, flowing from the drama of the European Jews, the Polish prisoners, the Roma, the Soviet prisoners, and all the victims of Auschwitz and of the entire Nazi German Third Reich. Let us learn to understand the sources of today’s world and the hierarchy of its values. Remembrance demands responsibility of us, and responsibility can arise only from remembrance.

Files to download

Report 2010

Today, there are still Witnesses to those days among us. Before long, we will be left alone. The testimony, accounts, and descriptions by them—the Survivors—remain among us. And the authenticity of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial remains. The largest concentration camp and the sole large extermination center that the Germans did not manage to raze to the ground. A symbol of a ghastly whole. Pars pro toto. It is up to us and no one else whether the generation of our grandchildren will be able to see the original remains of the camp. Ten years ago, almost all of the forty-five brick barracks at the old Birkenau women’s camp were accessible to visitors. Today only a few remain open. Preservation work must begin in 2012 and proceed at a quick, steady pace. Otherwise the barracks still standing will fall to ruin before our eyes. 

Files to download

Report 2009

Each year, there are fewer eyewitnesses among us who remember the hell of Auschwitz. And so we are left with the authenticity of the Memorial. Today, this authenticity must bear witness and speak to us so that, in the background, we can almost hear the voices of those who have fallen silent. We must all take care of this place where things happened that left an everlasting mark on our European civilization, and all human civilization. Auschwitz symbolizes the entire history of the Shoah and the whole system of concentration camps. Auschwitz symbolizes the unprecedented high-water mark of evil. We cannot understand ourselves without understanding Auschwitz. Caring for this place is not exclusively an obligation to past generations, to the victims and the survivors. To a large degree, it is also an obligation towards the generations to come. 

Files to download

Report 2008

To this day, Auschwitz remains the most eloquent place for forming the consciences of people who take responsibility for the future of our societies, nations, and states. After more than sixty years, people from all over the world continue to come here to see the ruins of the death factory. Those ruins speak to everyone’s imagination.Only a shared effort will make it possible to preserve the authenticity of this place and its message. In 2008, we laid the groundwork for a special Fund for the preservation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial. We believe that the democratic countries of this world, and people who realize how fragile this world is, will support us.

Files to download

Report 2007

Auschwitz remains a memorial site that can serve everyone as a mirror of the human soul and a prism for looking deep within ourselves. However, as Elie Wiesel understood, Auschwitz is also a “Truth Site.” It is a legible, unambiguous symbol that touches the fullness of human sensitivity. It is no accident that more and more people visit the site each year. In 2007, more than 1.2 million people came.

Files to download

Report 2006

2006 was the first year when the International Center for Education about Auschwitz and the Holocaust functioned fully. Despite lacking premises of its own, the Center developed new programs and made preparations for web-based education. We attempt to prepare a range of instructional programs, conferences, meetings, and seminars. We are convinced that our mission is fi tting and special. We know that there is no place on earth where it is possible to be a person, and to become a person, as authentically as at Auschwitz. Each conscience touched to the quick by the history of this place is a chance for a great victory for humanity and the civilization of truth. Your remembrance of Auschwitz and its victims gives meaning to the existence of this place, today and tomorrow. This is the meaning of the everyday work of many people – for almost six decades.

Files to download