Meeting XXI: June 1-2, 2011
Under the chairmanship of Władysław Bartoszewski, the International Auschwitz Council, which reports to the prime minister of the Polish Republic, held its twenty-first session in Oświęcim on June 1-2, 2011. Opening the meeting, Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum Director Dr. Piotr M. A. Cywiński presented a report on the months since the last meeting. He stressed that financial needs are becoming increasingly urgent.
In the case of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum, the appropriation from the Polish government does not even cover half the costs to maintain the operations of the institution, let alone essential conservation and education projects; other Memorials located at the sites of former Nazi German concentration camps and extermination centers confront similar problems. The Council therefore proposes, aside from the necessary immediate financial support, a comprehensive overhaul of the system for financing these institutions that play such a unique role in the areas of remembrance and education.
Director Cywiński also presented the expert opinion of conservators on the subject of exhibiting the Arbeit macht frei sign; maintaining conditions including a constant temperature and humidity are necessary for the preservation of one of the most important symbols of the European and world heritage. The display of the original in the open air, above the camp gate, is therefore out of the question. However, in order to ensure unhindered access for all visitors, the Museum plans to place the original sign within the framework of the future main exhibition. Members of the Council raised no objections to this solution. There was also discussion during the session of the progress of work on the new Russian exhibition being prepared by the Moscow Museum of the Great Patriotic War. The Council recommended the continuation of work in the direction envisioned in the scenario while also assigning M. Turski, P. Trojański, and M. Zając to evaluate the ongoing work of the Russian experts in the name of the Council.
Piotr Tarnowski, director of the Stuthof State Museum in Sztutowo, was a guest at the session, and the secretary of the Council reported on the functioning of that Memorial.
The next session of the Council will be held in Warsaw in November 2011.