Volkswagen’s gift to Auschwitz Memorial
On June 28th, in the German Resistance Memorial Centre in Berlin, representatives of the Volkswagen company, in cooperation with the International Auschwitz Committee, donated to the Auschwitz Museum two microbuses which are going to support the educational activity of the Memorial.
Cooperation of the Auschwitz Museum, the Volkswagen company and International Auschwitz Committee has been going on for over three decades and its important element consists in joint educational visits of the groups of young people from Germany and from Poland, students of the Volkswagen concern vocational schools.
“The meaning of the Auschwitz Memorial as a place of warning and remembrance is growing in these difficult times in Europe. The more witnesses of history are gone forever, the greater the role of the authentic site itself, commemorating the victims, but also reminding of the reasons for their persecution, of antisemitism, of the persecution of Poles and other nations”, said Christoph Heubner, Vice President of the International Auschwitz Committee. “We want to make sure that the memory of these atrocities and suffering never disappears”, he emphasized.
“These cars are going to constitute an important support of our everyday pedagogical work, the organization of anniversaries or different international seminars, in particular as the interest in a visit at the Memorial among young people from all over the world is constantly increasing. Thanks to this logistic support, former prisoners can still take part in these events”, said Andrzej Kacorzyk, director of the International Center of Education about Auschwitz and the Holocaust.
Since 1987, nearly 3300 young people from Germany and Poland have been supporting the Auschwitz Memorial, jointly contributing to the preservation of the Memorial by removing weeds, assisting in the installation of barbed wire on post-camp fencing, supporting Memorial Site experts among others in the process of conservation of shoes belonging to camp victims.
Gunnar Kilian, member of the board of the Volkswagen company, said that the opportunity to support the Museum is a great honour for his company. “Thanks to our joint projects one entire generation follows the rule that in Europe, there is no space for antisemitism or xenophobia. I am glad that so many young people have the opportunity to confront the history of Auschwitz and by working there, they are able to meet those who survived. This is specific and concrete work for the benefit of this place and concrete confrontation of the results of national socialism”, he said.
“For Volkswagen it is important that the company is able to send here young people from Germany and Poland. It is not about the history itself, but rather about the human aspect, about empathy, tolerance, respect for the other. This is what we teach during our projects. This is a sad place, but at the same time very strong will to survive had been manifested here. When I am visiting the Memorial Site I am extremely proud that I can work for them”, said Ines Doberanzke, representative of the Volkswagen company taking care of the groups visiting the Memorial.
Thanks to the partnership between the Volkswagen company and the International Auschwitz Committee, it was possible to organize at the Auschwitz Museum a lot of important international educational events, to renovate lecture halls or to publish several important publications, including the collection of ten books with the memories of survivors prepared on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.
Cars donated by the Volkswagen concern support Memorial conservators, while minibuses help the International Centre for Education about Auschwitz and the Holocaust among others in transporting former prisoners present during educational events at the Memorial.