The media are interested in the Lederfabrik affair. During the war there was a tannery there, and the building was also used to store the hair of the victims of the gas chambers. Now it is to be turned into a discotheque. The Foundation for the Youth Meeting House, which stands nearby, has protested against these plans. The starosta (head of the county) of Oswiecim has upheld his original approval. The mayor disagrees, arguing that the discotheque runs counter to the city's zoning plan.
Romano Prodi, head of the new European Commission, began his international travels with a symbolic visit to the Auschwitz-Birkenau. The Chairman wished to signal his interest in human rights and the protection of human rights at the outset of his term. According to Prodi, there is no more "clear and eloquent symbol than a visit to Auschwitz." He wrote in the guest book: "I am here today, at the beginning of my mandate as Chairman of the European Commission, to listen, to ask questions, and to remember.
Dr. Marek Kucia of the Jagiellonian university concluded sociological research for the "AUSCHWITZ 1999 PROJECT," which studied the young people who visit the Museum, their teachers, and Museum guides. Kucia submitted a report on the details of the research, which included surveys, in-depth interviews and group discussions with the guides, and surveys and group interviews with pupils and their teachers before and after visits using the "old" and "new" tour routes.