“School against hatred”. Joint educational project of the Wodzisław District and Auschwitz Memorial.
Over 250 students from the Wodzisław district took part in the project “School against hatred” by learning about the history of German Nazi concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau as well as taking part in workshops which were aimed at helping the young in facing the problem of hatred at school.
The project was realized by District Teacher Training Center in Wodzisław Śląski together with the International Center for Education about Auschwitz and the Holocaust at Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum. It was inaugurated in February 2018 with the conference within the framework of which Dr. Piotr Setkiewicz, Director of the Museum Research Center, presented the lecture devoted to Holocaust denial. Another important part of the project consisted in the training organized for teachers on the topic of hate speech as well preparing the students for the visit at the Memorial. Several months of joint efforts were summarized during the conference “Towards responsibility and respect” which was held in 14th Regiment of Silesian Insurrectionists High School no. 1 in Wodzisław Śląski.
The motivation for the realization of the project was media news on the events connected with the activity of neo-Nazi who were celebrating Adolf Hitler’s birthday in the Wodzisław region. “It all began on January 20th. Saturday, in the evening. This is when we were struck by the news that outrageous neo-Nazi events took place within the district. We had to undertake administrative steps but we did not forget about the most important thing, which is prevention”, said Ireneusz Serwotka, Wodzisław District Staroste. “Conclusions for the future have to be drawn. We cannot treat those events as a closed case. I am calling to the young – this was evil and together, we must block any attempts of restoring this ideology”, Serwotka emphasized.
For this reason, the assumptions of the “School against hatred” project included among others the fight with extremism and neo-Nazism through educating and raising students’ awareness.
“We know what a horrific experience Auschwitz had been. While guiding young people and presenting this tragic history to them, we also want to raise their awareness in order to prevent further expressions of hatred”, emphasized Andrzej Kacorzyk, Director of the International Center for Education about Auschwitz and the Holocaust. “We are talking about Memory, but our education is future-oriented. We want to teach universal values”, said Kacorzyk, who during his speech during the conference summarizing the project quoted many important words uttered by Auschwitz Survivors.
Key element of the project consisted in students representing different school types from the entire Wodzisław district visiting the Auschwitz Memorial. The visits included not only guided tours, but also summary workshops concentrated around different dimensions of the experience of KL Auschwitz prisoners together with experts’ presentation devoted to the symbolism of Auschwitz as well as the functioning of the Memorial over the years.
“Language is a human tool. We often hear people say that the language is aggressive. But this is not the aggression of the language, but of the people”, emphasized Prof. Jerzy Bralczyk, whose lecture “language towards tolerance and respect” summarized the conference in Wodzisław. “The language does have the creative function, but it results from ourselves. By talking, we want to define ourselves towards the other and unfortunately, this is through antagonism. I am the one who talks like this. I use these words and you are the bad one because you use them differently. It is difficult to transform tolerance into respect. But the willingness to inform instead of communicating, or else to manifest my views in order to show how much better I am than the other, these are our communicative sins. Not only in the public dimension, but also privately, on a day-to-day basis, at home. Because this is where tolerance and respect begin. In talking with our near and dear ones, who in this way may become nearer or a litter further”, Prof. Bralczyk said during his lecture.
During the lecture, the exhibition “Women in KL Auschwitz” was also available in the assembly hall of the school in Wodzisław. It includes several dozen boards presenting particularly tragic fate of women incarcerated and murdered in the camp. This is one of several dozen travelling exhibitions prepared by the Museum, which presented outside the Memorial, gives the unique opportunity to bring the tragic history of Auschwitz and its victims closer to us.