Skip to comments.Auschwitz-Birkenau 'face-lift' plan raises survivors' ire
Posted on 11/12/2006 11:31:19 PM PST by M. Espinola
An initiative to refurbish the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp has sparked a storm among Holocaust survivors in Israel. The initiative was announced last month by the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum's new director, who claimed that the current exhibits were outdated and insufficiently attractive to visitors.
A detailed refurbishing plan has yet to be drawn up, but participants at a recent meeting of Holocaust survivors' organizations warned against moves to "beautify" the site, as has been done with other Nazi concentration camps. "Dachau and Sachsenhausen have already become well-kept gardens; we won't allow the same to happen to Auschwitz," they said.
In September, historian Dr. Piotr Cywinski, 34, replaced Jerzy Wroblewski as director of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum. Shortly after taking up his new position, the energetic young director announced that it was time for the site to get a "face-lift." Cywinski said he planned to replace the current exhibit, set up during the communist era, with a more attractive one that would embody relevant educational messages against anti-Semitism, racism and genocide.
During a visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem last month, Cywinski suggested including in the new exhibit personal stories of survivors and a section on anti-Semitism in Europe before the Holocaust.
The council, which also includes members from Israel and the United States, will convene on December 5 in the Polish premier's offices.
Over the past few months, work has been under way at Auschwitz-Birkenau to preserve the remains of five of the death camp's seven gas chambers and two of its crematoria buildings that were blown up by the Germans shortly before they abandoned the site in January 1945.
(Excerpt) Read more at haaretz.com ...
Why refurbish it? Better, I think, to simply let it rot away.
I agree with Cywinski's (new director) plan to replace the current communist era exhibit with a more relevant display, but in terms of altering the general grounds, I believe they should remain as they appear, a memory for those which perished in the horrors of the Shoah.
Kinda depends on what they mean by "refurbish". I'd support halting the deterioration and restore it to the way it looked in 1945 so that future generations can see the horror. The displays could probably be updated as well. I'd oppose any move to "beautify" it though.
I visited London's Imperial War Museum display about the Holocaust a few years back and I was disappointed in that, in my opinion, it didn't display enough of the horror despite their warning signs.
This is part of a greater move to beautify history by the main perpetrators of slaughters. To the victors belong the right to create history books, even though they be full of lies, half truths and false pictures.
The Germans aren't the first to do this.
It's the Poles that are doing this.
Berkenau is in Poland? I didn't know that.
Yep, the Germans put quite a few of their camps in occupied territory.
Like a lot of towns near the current German border, Auschwitz was known by both a German name and the its own local name, and the English-speaking world tends to only know the German name. For example, you may have heard of Karlsbad as a famous European spa over the last few hundred years (featured in the movie Immortal Beloved), but it's in the current Czech Republic, and locally named Karlovy Vary.
Maps of the various Nazi forced labour and death camps.
In 12 years, the Nazis had built more than 10,000 camps. Dachau, the first camp, opened in March 1933; the last closed with the liberation of Stutthof in May 1945. Nazis and their willing allies ran collection camps (sammellager), where prisoners were kept before transport; labor-education camps (arbeitserziehungslager); transit camps (durchgangslager); collection camps for the dying (sterbelager); large concentration camps (konzentrationslager) like Ravensbrück; subcamps administered by main camps (aussenlager) like Gusen; and extermination camps (vernichtungslager) like Treblinka. Two camps in Poland, Auschwitz and Majdanek, functioned as both concentration camps, where slave labor was used, and as killing factories.
Most of the 10,000 camps have been dismantled, while some sit abandonned by the railways in Poland without memorials or markers on maps. Others like Auschwitz are tourist attractions that receive 500,000 annual visitors.
I totally agree and also believe that would be the general consensus amongst survivors and their families.
I did not know that there were 10,000 camps.
Every effort should be made to keep the camps exactly as they were. Dressing them up is simply another way to put a kinder face on an ugly part of history - let them rot away and their history rots away with it. Visitors should see what the camps inhabitants saw. Nothing else would create a stronger impression of the horrors that took place there not that long ago.