Meeting XVIII: 17 November 2009
The International Auschwitz Council met in the Chancellery of the Council of Ministers building in Warsaw on November 17. Participants in the session, chaired by Minister Władysław Bartoszewski, included Ewa Junczyk-Ziomecka, minister in the Chancellery of the President of the Polish Republic; Tomasz Merta, deputy minister of culture and national heritage; Krzysztof Stanowski, deputy minister of national education; Zvi Rav-Ner, the ambassador of Israel in Poland, and the members of the IAC.
The director of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, Dr. Piotr M. A. Cywiński, presented a report covering the period since the last session of the Council. Members of the Council expressed appreciation and approval, above all, of steps taken by the Museum in the interests of visitors, especially in view of the soaring attendance figures over the last decade. This year, attendance will exceed 1.25 million. The Council also familiarized itself with the schedule for the commemoration of the 65th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, and unanimously passed the following motion:
“The International Auschwitz Council has approved the plans for the observance of the 65th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi German Concentration Camp and Extermination Center. Apart from the IAC, the government of the Republic of Poland and the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, as well as Jewish circles, are involved in the preparation and implementation of this event. The Council expresses its hope that next year’s ceremonies will not only serve to remind the world once again about the tragedy of Auschwitz-Birkenau, but will also constitute a spur to a bolder sense of responsibility for the fate of the world, especially among the young.”
Next, Dr. Cywiński presented an outline of the new main exhibition. The Council expressed its acknowledgement of the results so far of work on the preliminary scenario. Discussion of further details is on the agenda for the next session of the IAC, which will take place in Oświęcim on June 15-16, 2010.
The Council nominated Dr. Piotr Trojanowski and Marian Turski to evaluate the scenario and aspects of new or revamped national exhibitions in its name. These two members of the Council will be responsible for real-time, ongoing assessment and analysis in the period between IAC sessions. The Council also upheld its decision from previous sessions that Dr. Piotr Trojański, Marian Turski, and Marek Zając should represent the Council in discussions with the Ministry of National Education about changes in the new basis for the operation of the IAC. Additionally, the Council requested that Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum Deputy Director Krystyna Oleksy lend her expert support to contacts with the education ministry.
The Council also heard information from Andrzej Przewoźnik, Secretary of the Council for the Protection of the Memory of Combat and Martyrdom, about work being carried out at the site of the Sobibor extermination center, and a report by Marek Zając on the condition of the Memorial at the site of the Kulmhof (Chełmno nad Nerem) extermination center. At its next session, the Council will examine a report on the most urgent tasks, mostly in the field of conservation, at all the World War II-era Memorial sites currently located in Poland.