Seminar for Israeli educators
The seminar entitled "Auschwitz in the collective consciousness in Poland and around the world The role and significance of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial for Jews and Poles” organized by the International Center for Education about Auschwitz and the Holocaust at the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum has come to an end. The 12-day seminar was attended by 20 people from Israel, who within the scope of their professional work deal with the history of the Holocaust. Amongst the participants were employees of the Yad Vashem Institute in Jerusalem, the ghetto fighters Museum in Kibbutz Lohamei HaGeta'ot, Beit Ha-Edut and Beit Terezin.
'The seminar programme began in Warsaw on August 1, were the participants visited the Warsaw Uprising Museum, and at 17:00 at the “W-hour” - paid tribute to the Warsaw insurgents, Poles and Jews who fought in its ranks,' said Tomasz Kobylański of the ICEAH, coordinator of the seminar. 'The next day, the seminar participants took part in commemoration related to 73rd anniversary of the revolt in Treblinka. After the anniversary event, they met with Krystyna Willenberg, a survivor of the Warsaw ghetto, and spouse of Samuel Willenberg the last rebel of Treblinka who died in February this year. Willenberg after escaping from the death camp in Treblinka, hid in Warsaw for a year, and upon the outbreak of the Warsaw Uprising joined the fight,' added Kobylański.
In addition, as part of the visit to Warsaw a tour of the former premises of the Warsaw ghetto was organized for the participants. The seminar participants also visited the Museum of the History of Polish Jews POLIN. During the stay in Kielce, they also saw the exhibition at the headquarters of the Jan Karski Society, commemorating the 70th anniversary of The Kielce Pogrom entitled, "Remember the past days", dedicated to the tragic events of 4 July 1946.
An important part of the seminar was the possibility of a thorough knowledge of the history of the German Nazi concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. The participants listened to history lectures on the fate of the different groups of victims of Auschwitz, the role of the camp in the Nazi programme for the extermination of European Jews, and the role of the SS in KL Auschwitz among others. The seminar programme also included lessons on the importance of Auschwitz in history education, which were complemented by workshops held in the Museum’s Collections and Preservation Department among others.
'The seminar participants also had the unique opportunity to participate in study visits to Monticello and Jawiszowice, where the Auschwitz satellite camps were located, and see places usually inaccessible to visitors, among others Block 10,' said Tomasz Kobylański. 'The group also took part in the trip commemorating the victims of the Death Marches, which finished in Gliwice, by visiting the local Jewish cemetery, and the Upper Silesian Jews Remembrance House, which was opened at the beginning of this year,' he added.
'As Holocaust educators from Israel, we had the opportunity to get to know new aspects and perspectives. The seminar did not only broaden our knowledge, but provided us with new insights and tools that we can use in many aspects of our work,' said Sari Granitza, deputy director of the Department of International Relations of Yad Vashem, and coordinator of the seminar on behalf of the institution. 'We hope to continue with this mutual cooperation that promotes our common goals. In the spirit of Janusz Korczak: “if you want to change the world, educate”,'she stressed.
As part of the stay in Oswiecim, the seminar group also visited the Jewish Museum and Chewra Lomdej Misznajot synagogue, as well as visiting the exhibition "Oszpicin. The story of an Oswiecim Jew" showing the history of the local Jewish community, which dates back to the first half of the XVI century. In turn, in the Oswiecim Roma Association in Poland, they visited the new permanent exhibition entitled, “Permeation of culture. The Roma then and now.” The visit was a good opportunity for discussion on the memory of the Roma victims of Nazism, and the celebrations marking the liquidation in the Auschwitz II-Birkenau camp the so-called, family camp for Gypsies (Zigeunerfamilienlager) a few days ago.
The seminar participants also spent three days in Cracow. During the visit to Kazimierz and Podgórze they got know places associated with centuries-old history of the Jewish community in Poland, visited the Oskar Schindler’s Enamel factory, and as part of the visit to the Jewish Museum "Galicia" took part in the meeting with Mirosława Gruszczyńska, Righteous Among the Nations.