Seminar for Israeli educators
On 8-19 July 2018, the International Center for Education about Auschwitz and the Holocaust at the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum organised another edition of the seminar “Auschwitz in the collective consciousness in Poland and the world. The role and significance of the Auschwitz-Birkenau remembrance for Jews and Poles” addressed to Israeli educators. 20 persons attended the seminar - tour guides and employees of institutions that deal with the topic of the Holocaust.
'The first part of the programme was held in Oświęcim. The participants had the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the history of the German Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz and the multi-dimensional symbol of the Memorial. They visited the Collections, Conservation Laboratories and Archives. During the classes, they also saw the sites of the former sub-camps in Monowice and Jawiszowice. A significant supplement of the program was the visit to the Jewish Centre in Oświęcim, during which the group visited the exhibition "Oszpicin. History of Jewish Oświęcim” presenting the fate of the local Jewish community - said Katarzyna Odrzywołek, the project coordinator for the ICEAH.
'The visit to this institution and walks through the old town had a significant effect on changing the perception of the city’s image' - Odrzywołek added.
The first city on the study trip around Poland was Cracow. On Friday, the participants took part in a ceremonial Sabbath dinner at the Jewish Community Centre. During the stay in Cracow, they visited three branches of the Historical Museum of the City of Cracow: Rynek Underground (underground market square), Schindler’s Factory and the Jagiellonian University Museum Collegium Maius.
The group spent the subsequent two days in Gdańsk. During the stay in Pomerania, they visited the Museum of World War II and the former German Nazi Stutthof concentration camp. During a guided tour, the participants also learned about the history of the city, and in particular the role of Jews in creating its heritage.
The final part of the programme took place in Warsaw, where one of the highlights of the seminar was a visit to the POLIN museum and meeting with experts from the department of education. The tour of the former site of the Warsaw ghetto was enriched with a visit to the Jewish Historical Institute. At the Jewish Historical Institute, the participants saw the new exhibition about the Oneg Shabbat - an underground social organisation documenting life in the Warsaw ghetto.
In addition to the visit to the Warsaw Uprising Museum, a significant event in the context of learning about the fate of the insurgent population of Warsaw was a meeting with a witness of history, dr Janina Iwańska. At the age of 14, she was deported to the Auschwitz II-Birkenau camp as part of the German repression against the fighting civil population of the capital. 'My meeting with the Yad Vashem delegation was a pleasant surprise,' she said. 'I was worried they would not be interested in what I had to say. I decided to tell them about my personal experience, what I saw and my relationship with the Jews before the war, during the war and after the war until date. I had the impression that what I was talking about met with great interest and understanding, and that a thread of sympathy developed between us,' Janina Iwańska, emphasised.
It was an extraordinary experience for the 20 specialists and educators who participated in the seminar. 'Several speakers, topics discussed, excursions, meetings with people at the Auschwitz Museum and other places, made a huge impression on us,' said Inbal Kvity, the seminar coordinator for Yad Vashem. 'We learnt more about the II World War, and in particular, the Holocaust from the Polish perspective. The combination of lectures, excursions and meetings with experts from various museums was just perfect. For us, it was a holistic experience of profound significance. The seminar participants returned to their homes with extensive materials to “comprehend” and use in their daily work,' added Inbal Kvity.