A Discotheque at Auschwitz?
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.
When asked its opinion, the Museum issued the following statement:
In connection with questions about the approval of a discotheque on the former grounds of the camp, the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum would like to explain that the approval of a discotheque by the local authorities refers to a building located more than one kilometer from the former main camp and more than four kilometers from the former Auschwitz II-Birkenau camp. The building also stands outside the buffer zone of the former camp.
This is the building of the pre-war tannery. During the time of Auschwitz concentration camp, it held some camp workshops (the cobbler, the leather-goods workshop, the smithy, a machine shop, etc.). The suitcases confiscated from Jews deported to Auschwitz were also stored, sorted, and shipped from there. Shoes of the victims were also sorted there, and victims' hair was stored there at times. There were also other places, both within the grounds of the camp and elsewhere, in which hair, suitcases, and other articles were stored.
Since there were many buildings associated with the functioning of the camp, and because many of them were at some distance - several, or even several dozen kilometers - from the camp, decisions on their use or adaptation must be left to the local authorities. The Museum feels that such decisions should be made after a thorough study of the history of such buildings and with due attention to the social sensitivities of both the local and international communities.