MEMORIAL AND MUSEUM

AUSCHWITZ-BIRKENAU

FORMER GERMAN NAZI
CONCENTRATION AND EXTERMINATION CAMP

News

We are looking for documents, photos, letters, memoirs…

ps
18-01-2017

The Director of the Museum has appealed to the German and Austrian public to hand over documents, photos, personal letters or any other materials associated with the SS staff of the German Nazi concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau.

 

SS-Obersturmführer Karl Höcker. Photo: SS, 1944
SS-Obersturmführer...
Equipment card for SS men Paul Förster
Equipment card for...

‘Without a comprehensive analysis and understanding of the motivation and mentality of the perpetrators, our efforts to wisely counsel future generations will only remain intuitive. Today, we ask you to help,’ we read in the appeal.

“So far, we have relied mainly on the accounts and memories of former prisoners, preserved camp documentation and post-war court trial materials. To this day, these constitute the foundation of our knowledge. We do not have multiple sources that allow for a better and more comprehensive understanding of the motivation of the perpetrators. The archives contain very few private materials created by members of the SS Staff of KL Auschwitz,” said Museum Director Dr. Piotr M. A. Cywiński. 

“We kindly ask the public to hand over any documents, photos, personal letters, diaries, or other materials that are in private hands. We have called on the most prominent German and Austrian media for help and publication of our appeal,” he added.

“I am absolutely convinced that only mutual effort can lead to a fuller understanding of the mechanisms of hatred, and analyses from the perspective of the victims, given the course of events, cannot fully serve the purpose. Today, we need new sources for a comprehensive picture of the history of Auschwitz and the Holocaust,” emphasised Director Cywiński

January 27, 2017 is the 72nd anniversary of the liberation of the German Nazi concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau.

The main theme of the commemoration event at the Memorial will be “Time”. It inevitably distances us from the history of Auschwitz. Memory is always a struggle with time. Time is also what we lack in our mission of making successive generations aware of the dangers of populism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, and various extremist attitudes.

At a time in which the last eyewitnesses of those events are passing on, we need to try increasingly harder to build our memory on what we have left: accounts and authentic documents and objects related to the Auschwitz concentration camp.

TEXT OF THE APPEAL

"The history of the German Nazi concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau is not yet fully understood.

We are familiar with the accounts and memories of former prisoners — these are from the victims’ perspective.
We are familiar with the preserved part of the camp documentation — these are administrative documents.
We are familiar with post-war court trial materials — these are written in the language of legal defence.

These are insufficient to fully understand the greatest tragedy in the history of Europe.

After the war, only a few sets of photos were found, taken by members of KL Auschwitz staff; a small number of private letters written by SS men; and very rare examples of other documents or single diaries.

Without a more comprehensive analysis and understanding of the motivation and mentality of the perpetrators, our efforts to wisely counsel future generations will only remain intuitive. Today, we ask you to help!

Whoever is in possession of any documents, photos, private letters, memoirs etc., and wishes to support our efforts to better understand the influence of populist mechanisms of hatred for human beings, please contact: . We guarantee complete anonymity to those who wish to hand over such documents. 

Director of the Auschwitz Memorial
Dr. Piotr M. A. Cywiński"