Broader perspective on the history of Auschwitz – in English. The International Summer Academy.
At the end of June and the beginning of July, participants from, among others, Sweden, Norway, Romania, United States, South Korea and United Kingdom took part in the fourth International Summer Academy, an English-language seminar organised by the International Center for Education about Auschwitz and the Holocaust.
The programme of the Academy included historical lectures as well as discussions and meetings concerning the commemoration and preservation of the authentic and historic Memorial Site. One of the topics discussed was how the memory of Auschwitz can be used in education in contemporary societies. Primarily, however, the participants had an opportunity to visit the site of the former Nazi German concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz. Apart from the study tours of the Memorial, participants also took part in a series of workshops regarding archival documents, camp art, and contemporary conservation methods.;
The seminar was divided into three parts. The goal of the first part was to present the history and culture of Polish Jews during the interwar period. Participants visited the Chevra Lomdei Mishnayot Synagogue in Oświęcim and spent one day in Kraków, where they listened to Dr. Edyta Gawron’s lecture on the life of Jews in Poland before and after the Shoah and visited the Kazimierz district and the grounds of the former ghetto, as well as other places.
During the second part, the participants learnt about various aspects of the history of the Auschwitz concentration camp and the Holocaust. The introduction to the topic of the history of the camp was a lecture given by Dr. Piotr Setkiewicz - head of the Research Center of the Museum, entitled “German occupation in Poland - the political and racial principles of the Nazi extermination policy”. An important part of the programme was a meeting with Ewa Moses-Kor, former prisoner of the camp and the victim of Dr. Josef Mengele’s pseudo-medical experiments. Participants also took part in two study tours to the places where the Auschwitz subcamps were located: Jawiszowice, Budy, Harmęże and others. They also went to Monowice, where the third component of the concentration camp complex - Auschwitz III-Monowitz, was located.
The last part of the seminar was dedicated to the contemporary methods of education on the topic of the history of Auschwitz and the Holocaust, as well as to various forms of commemorating these events. The seminar ended with a visit to Harmęże, where the local Church of the Franciscan Fathers hosts in its crypts an exhibition of the works of Marian Kołodziej, former prisoner of the Auschwitz camp, entitled “Plates of Memory. Labyrinths”. The exhibition presents camp experiences of the author in a metaphorical way and constitutes an attempt to cope with the post-war trauma.
“I am really thankful for everything that I learnt during the Summer Academy. When I was on my way back home to Sweden I realised that I acquired a large part of this knowledge thanks to you. All these discussions between workshops and questions during the lectures gave me an opportunity to deepen my knowledge”, wrote Gustav Öhlander from Sweden.
“Thank you for the opportunity of participating in the Summer Academy. I came to Poland with a broad knowledge, but during the seminar I learnt even more. Thank you for showing me the history of the Auschwitz concentration camp and the Holocaust in a broader perspective”, emphasised Charlotte Carstensen from Denmark.