Auschwitz Memorial awaits participants of the World Youth Day
In connection with the World Youth Day (WYD), scheduled to take place next year in Cracow, the Auschwitz Memorial and Museum will be accessible to visitors on special conditions. Changes in the organisation of tours are the result of huge interest in the former German Nazi concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau on the part of participants of the WYD.
'Auschwitz is an extremely important place where young people can learn what hatred, anti-Semitism and contempt for a fellow man and his rights resulted in decades ago. Nevertheless, Auschwitz is also a point of reference for many universal concepts, mainly as a space in which one can reflect on our individual and collective responsibility,' said the director of the Auschwitz Museum, Dr. Piotr M.A. Cywiński.
'I very much hope that for those hundreds of thousands of young people who come to the World Youth Day to ask important questions and seek answers, the visit to the Memorial will not only be an important history lesson, but also a unique personal experience,' he added.
The director of the Centre for Dialogue and Prayer in Oświęcim, Fr. Jan Nowak stressed the importance of the visit by young people to a place of suffering, among others St. Maximilian Kolbe. 'We often complain of being engulfed by darkness. Today’s world is dark, because it has turned away from God, who is light. People choose darkness, because in the dark they can hide from themselves. There is an exit horizon out of this crisis of hope. St. Maximilian Kolbe and St. Edyta Stein discovered it. And how many were those, whom no one knew a thing about. Each of them did what he did. He chose his place in the victory of Love,' he said.
'It is known today that no historian investigating European history after the II world war, would omit some prominent figures representing the Christian ethos in Poland. One of these characters is Rev. Fr. Kolbe. Another, on a different sphere, is the "Slavic pope" John Paul II,' said Fr. Nowak.
From 20-28 July, and 1-3 August 2016, the Auschwitz Memorial will only be open to participants of the World Youth Day that register on the website created for this purpose. A special tour route will be designed for them.
'Due to huge interests and conservation requirements, the inside of the historic buildings will be closed to visitors. The route, however, has been planned in such a way that the young pilgrims would be able to learn about the most important places both on the site of the former camp Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II-Birkenau. The most important issues concerning the history of the camp will be presented by an open-air exhibition prepared for this occasion,' said Andrzej Kacorzyk, director of the International Center for Education about Auschwitz and the Holocaust.
'The changes in the beginning of August will not in any way disrupt the organization of the Roma and Sinti Genocide Remembrance Day, which is scheduled to take place on the site of the former Auschwitz II-Birkenau on the 72nd anniversary of the liquidation of the so-called Zigeunerfamilienlager,' added, Kacorzyk.
The World Youth Day in Cracow with the participation of Pope Francis will be held from 26 to 31 July 2016.