The most heavily trafficked part of The Ethical Spectacle website, and the one which inspires the most reader email, has always been An Auschwitz Alphabet. After finding the site, Stefan Swiszczowski of Poland put me on his mailing list for a bulletin he publishes covering current events concerning Auschwitz. Here is the latest one.
I am enclosing an Auschwitz Bulletin on behalf of the Auschwitz Museum and the Computer Center of the Technological University of Cracow (TUP). The A. Museum is using my address for the Bulletin only! We try to update a list of possible e-mail recipients of the Bulletin. Therefore I would be grateful for the addresses of any institutions or persons you know which are likely to be interested in receiving it. It would also be appreciated if you could pass this Bulletin to anybody who may be interested.
AUSCHWITZ-BIRKENAU MUSEUM AND REFLECTION CENTRE OSWIECIM, POLAND
BULLETIN NO. 4
THE PROJECT FOR THE COMMEMORATION AND EXPLICATION OF THE GROUNDS AND BUILDINGS SURROUNDING THE SITE OF AUSCHWITZ CONCENTRATION CAMP.
A highly developed concept for the further integration of the grounds adjacent to the sites of the Auschwitz and Birkenau camp was presented at the last meeting of the International Council of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in February, 1998. Senior Curator Teresa ?wiebocka familiarized members of the Council with propositions for exhibiting all the original elements and sites in the camp buffer zone, as well as for linking the two parts of the camp by way of historical objects directly connected with its functioning. The first proposed linking element was the explication, commemoration and accessibility of all the railroad sidings and unloading ramps where trains carrying deportees arrived in the camp. The recovery and exhibition of these objects will create a network that integrates both camps in a single entity. Sites inherently connected with the history of the camp are found in the vicinity of the railroad sidings, including places where prisoners labored, were executed and tortured, as well as factories and warehouses - the Kanada I warehouses and the site of the execution of 200 Jewish members of the Sonderkommando. A detailed scenario for these linking elements was developed by Teresa ?wiebocka and Teresa Zbrzeska in 1996/1997. The visual and graphic design of the signs and information tables to be installed there is now underway. A plan for the commemoration of the siding and unloading ramp that functioned longest in the camp (the Judenrampe) was prepared in 1992. The removal from the site of the Auschwitz I camp of elements that hinder its perception and disturb the appropriate calm is proposed: the main reception center with its restaurant, bar, and post office, as well as the museum offices, storage areas, workshops and parking areas. All that would remain on the camp grounds would be exhibitions and features explaining and commemorating the most important objects connected with its history.
Another element, equally important, is the preparation of alternative routes between the two camps. At present, the route - for pedestrians and for busses-passes near the former Union Werke factory and across the railroad tracks by way of an overpass. The second proposed route, for pedestrians, would be quieter and also shorter. It would lead from the former Tobacco Monopoly complex to the Judenrampe, and from there along the old route directly to the main gate of the Birkenau camp, the Gate of Death. This is the same route followed by thousands of Jews who were sent to the Birkenau gas chambers after selections held on the unloading ramp next to the railroad siding. This route was also followed by prisoners from other ethnic groups doomed to a slow death in the concentration camp.
Aside from establishing a convenient route between the two camps that allows access to and provides an explanation of all the important sites connected with the history of the camp, it is also necessary to remember that large numbers of visitors will be unable to cover this distance on foot because of their age or physical condition, or because of the limited time available for their visit to the Museum. We therefore believe that they should be able to use their own vehicles, which can be left at parking lots situated near the Auschwitz and Birkenau camp. The present parking area at Birkenau, located along the perimeter fence and partly obscuring the main gate, should be relocated. This relocation should respect the seriousness of the site while, at the same time, avoiding the creation of a barrier or hindrance to access to the camp grounds. It must be borne in mind that the Birkenau grounds comprise 171 hectares (over 425 acres), and we would like visitors to be able to spend as much time there as possible. The parking areas in the vicinity of the two camps should be of equal size, should share a similar appearance, and should offer information points and basic facilities for visitors (toilets, bookshops, and shops offering floral tributes and candles).
The realization of these conceptions will make it necessary to find alternative sites for the Museum offices and storage facilities, as well as for the recently opened Educational Center. There is also a need to ensure adequate space for the main reception and information complex, three cinema halls, a gallery of contemporary art connected with the Holocaust, and a large space for temporary exhibitions. To fulfill these intentions, it will be necessary either to erect a complex of new museum buildings or to use the pre-war Tobacco Monopoly complex, which is in good condition and has been vacated by its owner, Philip Morris. Using at least part of these buildings for Museum purposes would ensure that they are properly utilized and ensured the appropriate preservation and respect. It must be borne in mind that they were an integral part of the camp during the war, and that prisoners were there every day. This is also where the first transport of prisoners arrived.
An international consultative meeting of experts on the spatial utilization of the areas surrounding the Auschwitz and Birkenau camp was held in Bielsko-Bia?a on June 2 and 3, 1998. The conference was organized by the Polish Committee of the International Council of Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), chaired by Prof. Krzysztof Paw?owski. The agenda aimed at gathering the opinions of specialists in urban planning and historical preservation from various countries. Experts from the USA, Israel, France, Italy, Germany, Switzerland and Poland took part. Aside from members of ICOMOS or delegates from the national ICOMOS organizations, members of the Museum staff also took part. The Polish National Committee of ICOMOS advocated the creation of an integrated buffer zone around the former Auschwitz and Birkenau camp. This buffer zone would be separately administered as an integrated structural entity and a World Heritage Site. Prof. Paw?owski also proposed the gradual re-assignment of all the existing historical objects that were once auxiliary to the operation of the camp to functions connected with the present and future research and educational activities of the Museum. Senior Curator Teresa ?wiebocka presented propositions from the Museum, as discussed at the last meeting of the International Board of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, on the explication and commemoration of the most important sites in the area adjacent to the camp. The program for the utilization of the buffer zone around the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum requires comprehensive analysis and discussion on both a Polish and an international scale, including former prisoners, the families of the victims, and the residents of areas adjacent to both camps. It should reconcile the tragic history and the present existence of the City of Oswicim and the village of Brzezinka.
THE COMPETITION FOR THE ARRANGEMENT OF THE SAUNA BUILDING ON THE GROUNDS OF THE FORMER BIRKENAU CAMP
In October, 1997, the Museum announced a competition for the arrangement of the Central Sauna building, which went into operation in December, 1943, and was the largest structure built at Birkenau during the existence of the camp. From then until January, 1945, the Central Sauna building was used for the initial procedures connected with the arrival in the camp of tens of thousands of new men and women prisoners, mostly Jewish and Polish. The history of this building abounds in dramatic events connected both with mass extermination and with the functioning of the camp, including additional selections among Jewish prisoners who had already been categorized during initial selections on the unloading ramp as fit for work. The Sauna was also used regularly for the delousing and disinfection of prisoners and their clothing-during which the prisoners were often made to wait outside without clothing, regardless of the weather. They often waited in this way for more than twelve hours before being allowed to return inside or to dress again in their disinfected clothing. Groups of prisoners being transferred to slave labor assignments at other camps in Germany were also subjected to disinfection in the Sauna.
The competition was intended to choose a visual conception, based on a
scenario written by members of the Museum staff, presenting:
* the history and functioning within the camp of the Central Sauna
through an informational system that does not impinge on the structure
of the building while corresponding to its interior, to the terrain of
the former camp, and to the existing explications and commemorations;
* an exhibition of family photographs depicting in a symbolic way the world of the European Jews in which most of the victims had lived, and which was irreparably destroyed as a result of the Holocaust;
* an appropriate display of the original wagon used by the Nazis to carry to the nearby pond the ashes of people who had been murdered and burned.
The following were invited to take part in the competition:
*Barbara Borkowska, interior designer, and Jacek Stokosa, artist;
*Jan Kosiski, artist, and Jana Maria Terlikowska, interior designer;
* Naomi Salomon, photographer;
* a mixed Polish-German group of students from the Art Schools in Wrocaw and Brunswick, under the direction of Prof. Monika Schnell.
The competition was judged by a jury made up of:
* Jeshajahu Weinberg (chairman), creator of the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington and the Diaspora Museum in Tel Aviv, and a member of the International Board of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum;
* Detlef Hoffman, historian and theoretician of art at the University of Oldenburg;
*Carry von Lakerveld, former director of the City of Amsterdam Historical Museum and creator of numerous exhibitions;
* Wladyslaw Niessner, architect and chairman of the Conservation Commission of the International Board of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum;
* Helmut Morlok, architect, long-time collaborator with the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum and representative of the German lands;
* Józef Szajna, former Auschwitz prisoner, director, painter, and a member of the International Board of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum;
* Krystyna Oleksy, Vice-Director of the Museum.
During its first session on March 3-4, 1998, the jury decided that none of the projects was fully satisfactory. Two entrants, Borkowska/Stokosa and Salomon, were chosen to submit revised versions of their proposals within six weeks.
The jury reconvened on May 2, to consider the revised proposals for the arrangement of the Sauna building. The entry submitted by Barbara Borkowska and Jacek Stokosa was chosen for realization.
In accordance with the scenario, the authors of the winning entry proposed that visitors should follow the same route as the people whom the Nazis led to the Sauna. Visitors would be guided along a special raised platform, in order to protect the original floor.
Information and documentary photographs illustrating the functioning and history of the Sauna are to be placed on a floor-level surface of hardened, bonded glass, which was chosen as the material that least intrudes upon the existing interior.
The collection of family photographs will be situated. As visitors step off the platform marking their route onto the floor of darkened glass, they will see before them a specially-constructed Wall completely covered by photographs. The photographs will be reflected in the glass floor, and the and the boundary between the wall of photographs and its reflection will be practically invisible. The photographs will fade into space and disappear into the ceiling of the room. An intimate exhibition space will be arranged on the other side of the Wall. Original-size family photographs are to be placed on the walls there and on the reverse side of the Wall.The visitors, interested in these photographs, will walk between the walls covered with images and be surrounded by them. There will be a shift in distance. After the monumental Wall of Photographs, the visitors will step into the privacy of family photographs, supplemented by information on the stories of specific families and individuals.
In the last room visitors will walk past the authentic wagon in which the ashes of the victims were removed from the crematoria.
In the first half of 1998, the Museum was visited by more than 219,000 people, of whom 112,000 came from Poland and 107,000 from abroad. Most of the visitors were young people-86,000 from Poland and 41,000 from abroad. The services of 147 guides were available to visitors; 66 of these guides offered information in foreign languages.
The expansion of the guide staff made it possible to introduce a new form of guide service, in both Polish and foreign languages, in mid-May. Individual visitors can now join together in groups to benefit from the services of a guide in Polish, English or German.
Political figures who visited the Museum included Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Estonian President Lennart Meri, and Irish Foreign Minister David Andrews, as well as a group of Canadian parliamentarians.
Interest in Auschwitz on the part of the Polish and foreign mass media remains undiminished. In the last six months, 32 film and television crews came to the Museum. They filmed sequences for documentary films on the subject of Auschwitz as well as material for short films on tourism in Poland. Prominent interest in the latter regard was shown by film crews from the Far East (China, Japan, and South Korea).
CEREMONIES AND, COMMEMORATIONS
The 53rd Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz Concentration Camp was commemorated on January 27. Mass was celebrated beforehand at the Church of St. Joseph the Worker in O?wi?cim. A delegation of former prisoners, members of the Auschwitz Preservation Society, school students and members of the Museum staff laid flowers and lighted candles at the Death Wall, in Crematorium I, at the Camp Victims' Memorial in Birkenau, and at the mass grave of the prisoners who died during and after liberation.
The March of the Living took place on April 23. The fact that the first March was held ten years ago made this year's March special. More than 4,000 young Jewish people from all over the world were joined by approximately 1,000 Jewish Holocaust survivors. The march from the former Auschwitz Camp to the former Birkenau Camp was led by Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel, and Jerzy Buzek, Prime Minister of Poland, as well as Maeir Lau, Chief Rabbi of Israel, and Tadeusz Rakoczy, Bishop of the Bielsko-Lywiec Diocese.
The prayer for the dead, the Kaddish, was recited at the Camp Victims' Memorial in Birkenau to conclude the commemoration. Participants in the March visited the grounds of the former Auschwitz Concentration Camp from April 22 to April 24. Several dozen Museum staff members and guides were engaged in tasks connected with the March.
The main ceremonies connected with the 100th anniversary of the Salesian Fathers in Poland were held in O?wi?cim on June 14. The Salesian ceremony was combined with observances of the 58th anniversary of the arrival of the first transport of Polish political prisoners in Auschwitz Concentration Camp. A memorial plaque was unveiled to commemorate the devotion of Salesian fathers and Seraphite sisters in aiding Auschwitz prisoners during the Second World War. The sponsors of the plaques included the board of the Auschwitz Preservation Society and the Auschwitz State Museum. Former prisoners participated in a mass at the church in Z?ota near Tarnów, which for years has been a sanctuary for survivors of the first transport. At the Auschwitz State Museum, flowers were laid at the Death Wall, at Block 15, and on the Monopol grounds, where prisoners from the first transport were housed. Those placing the floral tributes included former Auschwitz Concentration Camp prisoners Stanislaw Ryniak, Fryderyk Czop, Wojciech Drewniak and Jerzy Bielecki.
1. Seminars for Teachers from Poland
As part of the educational program developed by the Educational Department at the end of 1995 in order better to prepare school students for visits to the Museum, regular meetings are held with teachers of humanistic subjects, homeroom teachers, and catechism instructors from primary and secondary schools.
The meetings include lectures on the fates of specific ethnic and religious groups in Auschwitz, the showing of educational films on Auschwitz themes, work in the Archives and Collections Department, and specialized visits to the former camp grounds. Teachers also take part in methodological workshops during which they obtain sets of materials developed by Educational Center staff members and by Museum researchers. These materials can be used for personal reference by the teachers, or for lessons in preparation for visits to the former camp grounds; the sets include prepared lesson plans.
January 16-17: a session for 18 humanities teachers from Bielsko, Katowice, Warsaw, Rzeszów and Lublin provinces in preparation for a two-week seminar at the Yad Vashem Memorial titled Judaism-the History and Culture of the Polish Jews-the Holocaust.
June 28-July 1: a seminar for history teachers from provinces in southern Poland (as recruited by the Provincial Methodological Center in Bielsko).
2. Seminars and Residencies for Teachers and Youth Group Leaders from Abroad
May 13-14: a two-day seminar in English for American teachers working in Germany. The program included visits to the former camp, lectures on the symbolism of Auschwitz, methodological workshops, visits to the Museum Collections and Archives, and showings of documentary films.
July 5: a one-day seminar for directors of youth groups participating in study tours of Poland organized by the Israeli Ministry of Education. The program included visits to Auschwitz I, Auschwitz II-Birkenau, and the site of Auschwitz III-Monowitz, as well as the Museum Collections and Archives and meetings with English-language guides and Museum research staff.
July 30: a one-day seminar for 41 teachers from Australia, Great Britain, Canada, the USA and South Africa who had completed an international course organized by the Yad Vashem Memorial in Jerusalem. The program included visits to Auschwitz I, Auschwitz II-Birkenau, and the site of Auschwitz III-Monowitz, as well as the Museum Collections and Archives and a meeting with Museum research staff.
3. Seminars and Residencies for Students from Poland and Abroad
March 15-22: in cooperation with the International Youth Meeting House, a seminar was held in Oswiscim for history students from the XI Lyceum (secondary school) in Cracow. The staff for this project included Jagiellonian University faculty members who gave lectures along with Museum research staff and familiarized the students with the Museum expositions. The project was financed by the Auschwitz-Birkenau Death Camp Victims' Memorial Foundation and the International Youth Meeting House.
March 31-April 2: a seminar on the theme „Auschwitz: History and Symbolism" was held for students of history from Adam Mickiewicz University. Aside from visits to the former camp grounds, the students heard lectures on the symbolism of Auschwitz and on the profiles of selected prisoners of Auschwitz Concentration Camp. They were also familiarized with the resources of the Archives, Collections, and Library. The participants obtained sets of teaching material during workshops on preparing school groups for visits to Auschwitz.
• June 26-27: A seminar titled „Auschwitz-Past and Present" was held for forty Polish and German participants in a course organized by the Union of Rural Youth in Kalisz. The program included visits to the camp grounds and to an exhibition in Harm??e of the works of Marian Ko?odziej, a former Auschwitz prisoner, and a meeting with former Auschwitz prisoner August Kowalczyk and residents of the community of Bojszowa who helped August Kowalczyk to escape from the camp.
4. Lectures, Museum Lessons and Film Sessions
Museum lessons and film showings were held for primary-school students in connection with visits to selected parts of the exposition. The subjects of the lessons were „SS-man, Capo and Prisoner" and „Life in Auschwitz Concentration Camp on the Basis of Profiles of Selected Prisoners-Attitudes and Behavior in the Camp Environment."
Documentary films and film etudes on the theme „Perpetrators and Victims" were screened for 70 eighth-grade students from W?gierska Górka.
A lecture titled „The Symbolism and Educational Role of the Auschwitz Museum and Memorial" was given on April 8 for a group of teachers and participants in a study tour organized by the Beth Shalom Holocaust Education Center in Great Britain.
A great many new Museum guides have begun working in recent years. Ongoing training of guides continued from January to March. Films made many years ago on Auschwitz themes, including Night and Fog, Archaeology, Ambulance and I Was a Capo, were shown. Claude Lanzmann's Shoah was also shown in its entirety.
Other sessions offered new guides a chance to familiarize themselves with the work and resources of the Archive, Library and Collections. At the end of the training program, there was a meeting with former Auschwitz Concentration Camp prisoner Kazimierz Albin, who at present is chairman of the Board of the Auschwitz Preservation Society .
All educational activity depends on the intensive involvement of the staffs of the Research Department, Archives, Collections, Library and Section for Former Prisoner Affairs. They prepared and delivered many lectures and lessons during seminars for teachers and young people, as well as for guides undergoing training.
POST-GRADUATE COURSES FOR TEACHERS
Under an agreement signed in October, 1997 by the Museum and the National Education Commission Pedagogical School in Cracow, two-semester post-graduate courses for humanities teachers were opened at the Museum in February, 1998, on „Totalitarianism-Nazism-The Holocaust." As approved by the Senate of the Pedagogical School and the Office of the Director of the Museum, the program of studies includes the following subjects:
* Totalitarianism, fascism, and racism
* The Nazi movement and Nazi government in Germany and the occupied countries
* Nazi concentration camps, with special emphasis on Auschwitz
* The history and culture of the Jewish people to 1939
* The persecution and extermination of the Jewish people under the Nazi government
* Poles and Jews during the Second World War and during the post-war period
* The Holocaust and the concentration camps in art and literature
* The Holocaust and the concentration camps in documentary and feature films
* After Auschwitz and the Holocaust: overcoming the past and prejudices in public awareness and through interfaith dialogue
* The Jewish people after the war
* Totalitarianism, Nazism and the Holocaust in the school curriculum.
The course evoked vast interest on the part of teachers, who emphasized the fact that it filled a gap in their preparation for dealing with these subjects in their lessons at school.
The first session of twenty lectures and four seminars was held from February 4-6, 1998.
The inaugural lecture was given by Prof. Feliks Kiryk, Ph.D., Rector of the Pedagogical School in Cracow.
Thirty-three people took part in the course.
The second session was held from July 6-19. The lecturers were specialist scholars research centers in Poland and abroad. The lessons, which aroused a great deal of interest among the participants, were supplemented by films dealing with the Second World War and by a visit to an exhibition by former Auschwitz prisoner Marian Kolodziej.
In January, the Museum announced through the local press and television that it was accepting applications from candidates for a course for guides. Candidates were interviewed and 45 were accepted for the course. They received instruction on the history of Auschwitz Concentration Camp from staff members of the Research and Historical Department from mid-February until the end of April. In May and June, they took theoretical and practical examinations. The Qualifications and Examination Committee awarded Museum Guide Licenses to the 25 candidates who passed the examinations with the best results.
THE ART WORKS BY AUSCHWITZ CONCENTRATION CAMP PRISONERS EXHIBITION
The Art Works by Auschwitz Concentration Camp Prisoners exhibition, made up of works from the holdings of the Museum, was held in Block 12 from May 4 to September 30, 1998.
Representing all the techniques of the visual arts, from drawings through prints, painting and sculpture, to applied art objects, these works were made in the camp by prisoners Mieczyslaw Kolcielniak, Wladyslaw Siwek, Wladyslaw Nowakowski, Bronislaw Czech, Wlodzimierz Siwierski, Franciszek Jawiecki, and others. Some of the drawings and ink sketches done on small scraps of paper depict scenes from camp life or portraits of fellow prisoners. A different part of the exhibition includes genre scenes that represent a yearning for freedom or a reaction against the rigors of camp life. These are landscapes remembered from civilian life and from book illustrations. They include camp letters decorated by prisoners and sent to their families, and greeting cards made for fellow prisoners. Some of the works in the exhibition were made on orders from the camp authorities, including sketches of camp buildings, and others are applied art objects for everyday use, such as match and cigarette-paper holders. Each of the objects created under camp conditions represents more than the need for artistic self-expression. Because of their time and place and the significance that they held both for their creators and their recipients, these objects should be treated above all as unique relics of the times of extermination.
THE MUSEUM, ARCHIVES AND LIBRARY
In the first half of 1998, the Museum acquired 31 items. Twenty of the items are works of art (paintings, drawings and coins), and eleven are historical objects for the textile and camp equipment departments. ixteen of these items were donated or conveyed to the museum, eight were purchased, and seven were found on the grounds of the former camp. The more valuable acquisitions include:
1. A two-wheeled metal cart used by prisoners laboring in the Monowitz camp.
2. A camp tag bearing Auschwitz Concentration Camp serial number 5826, which belonged to prisoner Wladyslaw Siwek.
3. A badge reading „HKB" (Häftlingskrankenbau), as worn by prisoners employed in the camp infirmary.
4. A camp towel belonging to Auschwitz prisoner Zofia Pohorecka, who used it as protection against the cold during the January, 1945, evacuation march.
5. An oil portrait of Franciszek Targosz, painted in Auschwitz in 1942 by Mieczyslaw Kocielniak.
6. Five decorated camp letters mailed from Auschwitz in 1943 and 1944 by prisoner Wladyslaw Siwek, who painted the water-color decorations (genre scenes and floral motifs) on the letters.
7. A contemporary cycle of eight drawings of the guard towers around the camp by Pawel Warchol, titled Alfabet Auschwitz (An Auschwitz Alphabet), designated by letters of the alphabet.
These acquisitions have been described and entered in the Museum catalogue.
Documentary and research materials include:
* transcribed accounts by the former Auschwitz Concentration Camp
prisoners Zofia Pohorecka and Aleksander Ogorza?ek, and by the finders
of the metal cart from Monowitz, Mieczyslaw Czerwiski and Edward
* materials on the theme „A Day in the Life of an Auschwitz Prisoner in Drawings and Paintings by Former Prisoners," as prepared for the Educational Center;
• verification and catalogue entries for approximately 230 exhibition items.
Data searches have been carried out and consultations rendered on the collections and on the lives of artists.
A total of 152 exhibits were on loan to borrowers including:
* the Wanda Siemiaszkowa Theatre in Rzeszów and the Pomeranian
Principality Castle in Szczecin for a retrospective exhibition on the
50th anniversary of Józef Szajna's artistic debut;
*Leonard Pyszkowski for his exhibition in Inowroclaw;
* the Zachta Modern Art Gallery in Warsaw for a retrospective exhibition marking the 25th anniversary of the death of the sculptor Alina Szapocznikowa;
* The Exhibition Department of the Museum for the exhibition titled Art Work by Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp Prisoners.
As part of measures to ensure the security and preservation of the collections, more than 4,000 items have been moved from temporary storage to storage space in the newly remodeled Block 26. Approximately 40 sq. m. of alloy from „Kanada" were placed on specially purchased metal carts.
The Archives made numerous valuable acquisitions. Notable items among the 136 original documents acquired included:
* a collection of the camp correspondence of former Auschwitz prisoner
Wladyslaw Siwek, comprising 53 letters and eight postcards that he sent
from the camp to his family between October, 1940, and October, 1943;
* a collection of 47 camp letters of Auschwitz prisoner Adolf Gawalewicz, conveyed to the Archives by Stanislaw Klodziski Jr.;
* 17 letters of prisoner Dionizy Lechowicz.
The Archives also acquired 136 copies of camp documents. Especially noteworthy items include:
* 88 letters of Auschwitz prisoner Jan Olszyski;
* seven memoirs by former prisoners;
* fifteen accounts by former Auschwitz prisoners;
* a study of Polish prisoners in the Nazi Schmelt Organization concentration camps, and a study of homosexuals in Auschwitz by Jorg Hutter (Germany);
• 74 personal information surveys by former Auschwitz prisoners living in Poland and abroad.
Thirty-six persons visited the Archives for purposes of scholarly research. The Bureau for Information on Former Prisoners replied by letter to 1,502 requests for information on the fate of former prisoners. Enquiries were made in person by 1,688 people. Information was provided to a total of 3,190 people.
By way of donation or purchase, 122 books were added to the holdings of the PMO Library. All were entered in the catalogue on delivery. The Library staff loaned 1,372 books, periodicals and maps. The Library was used by 950 people, including 134 from abroad.
Work continues on Memorial Book: Transports from Warsaw to Auschwitz Concentration Camp. This publication is being prepared in cooperation with the Auschwitz Preservation Society and contains the names of more than 20,000 Poles deported from Warsaw to Auschwitz.
Janusz Pogonowski: Letters from Auschwitz is being prepared for publication. The book contains eight letters that the twenty-year-old prisoner sent illegally to his family from the concentration camp. It also includes accounts and testimony concerning Janusz Pogonowski and a wealth of illustrative material. The letters are an example of the bestial way in which the German occupation authorities violated the life of one Polish family.
Work has been completed on the selection and study of source materials for a publication on the „Central Sauna," the building used for the reception of new prisoners at Birkenau.
Members of the Research Staff cooperated in the creation of a computerized file of the Jewish people confined to the ghetto in Sosnowiec, on the basis of records preserved in the State Museum in Katowice (Sosnowiec City and B?dzin Starostwo Collections). So far, the names of more than 21,000 people have been established. The majority of them died at Auschwitz Concentration Camp. More names are currently being added to the card file.
THE SECTION FOR FORMER PRISONER AFFAIRS
The staff of the Section carried out a survey of former Auschwitz prisoners; 356 questionnaires were returned, mainly from abroad. The information obtained was entered in a card file. The staff also worked at gathering documentation and turned over to the Archives 22 original camp letters, 8 copies of letters, and 23 civilian photographs of Jewish people deported to Auschwitz Concentration Camp. Their documentation efforts also involved the recording of new accounts by former prisoners. Members of the Section staff transcribed nine such accounts and supervised the preparation of seven others by staff members from other departments. Work continues on the administration and coordination of indexes to the 60 volumes of memoirs by former Auschwitz prisoners and members of the resistance movement that outside the camp. Members of the section staff entered 2,300 personal information forms on former prisoners into the computer data base, as well as entries from the index to fifteen volumes of the Statements Collection. The staff provided information to former prisoners and their families. They carried out nine data searches of the archives and library on events that occurred in or adjacent to the camp and on the fate of prisoners and members of the resistance movement outside the camp.
The Museum published the following books between September, 1997 and June, 1998:
Scholarly Studies and Source Material
* Henryk Swiebocki, Reports by Escapees from Auschwitz Concentration
Camp (English version)
* Henryk Swiebocki, Reports by Escapees from Auschwitz Concentration Camp (German version)
* Hefte von Auschwitz 20
* Sinti und Roma im KL Auschwitz-Birkenau 1943-1944 (German-language publication containing materials from the 1991 scholarly conference on the extermination of the Romas, held at the Museum)
Memoirs by Prisoners
* Janusz Pogonowski, Listy z Auschwitz (Letters from Auschwitz, Polish)
* Tadeusz Sobolewicz, I Survived, Therefore I Am (English version)
Guides to Auschwitz-Birkenau
* Russian version
* Hungarian version
Pro Memoria Information Bulletin
* No. 8 (Polish)
* No. 7 (English)
* No. 7 (German)
* Auschwitz: A History in Photographs, Auschwitz: Voices from the Ground
(English, French, German and Italian versions).
* Auschwitz: Nazi Death Camp (Italian version)
* Auschwitz as Seen by the SS (English version)
* Tadeusz Sobolewicz, I Survived, Therefore I Am (German version)
* Guide to Auschwitz-Birkenau (Polish, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Norwegian, Hebrew, Spanish, Korean and Swedish versions).
* Auschwitz (video cassette-English, German, French and Italian versions)
* Auschwitz: Past, Present and Future (video cassette-Polish, English and Japanese versions)
PARTICIPATION IN CONFERENCES AND RESEARCH TRIPS
* Piotr Setkiewicz, M.A., took part in a conference at the Sachsenhausen
Memorial on prisoner slave labor during the Second World War.
* An international conference on religious minorities, religious freedom and human rights in post-communist Europe was organized at the Exhibition and Conference Center at Wawel Castle in Cracow by Columbia University and the Jagiellonian University Center for Research on the Culture of the Jews in Poland. Alicja Bialecka, M.A., gave a talk on „Opportunities for Education in Tolerance at the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum."
* A seminar on „Educational Work at Memorial Sites: Experience and Perspectives" was held to mark the opening of the Jugendgasthaus at Dachau. The program included a presentation of the educational work undertaken by such institutions as the Dachauer Forum and the Dachau Memorial, as well as visits to sites in Munich connected with National Socialism. Andrzej Kacorzyk, M.A., took part.
• Educational Center employee Alicja Bialecka, M.A., took part in a US Information Agency „International Visitor" program study tour of the United States. She visited museums, and academic and cultural centers on the East and West Coasts and met people engaged in education at memorial centers, in teaching about the holocaust, and in work with young people.
* Jerzy Dubski, M.A., gave lectures at the University of Bochum on the attitudes of Auschwitz prisoners, the camp resistance movement, and selected issues in the history of the Polish underground state.
* A Museum delegation, consisting of Director Jerzy Wróblewski, M.A., Archives Director Barbara Jarosz, M.A., and Computer Section Manager Krzysztof Antoczyk, M.Sc., visited the Theresienstadt Museum (Terezin, Czech Republic) to discuss participation by the Museum in the Czech „Holocaust Phenomenon" project.
* Czech Republic President Vaclav Havel is the patron and supervisor of the project, which is aimed at collecting existing research and promoting further studies of the persecution and extermination of Jews, Romas, Jehovah's Witnesses and other groups of citizens of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia during the Second World War. A coordinating commission of representatives of governmental and non-governmental organizations and researchers in the subject has been formed. The project envisions cooperation with institutions outside the Czech Republic, including the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, which possess relevant materials or have carried out research on these issues.
* Discussions have been held between the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum and the Theresienstadt Museum on the exchange of copies of archival material and the compilation in electronic form of information from these sources.
* Opportunities for Museum Archive staff members to carry out a data search of Czech archives in 1999 was discussed at a meeting with the director and archival director of the Central Archives in Prague.
* Teresa Swiebocka, M.A., and Irena Szymalska, M.A. were invited by the Imperial War Museum to take part in the presentation of a model of a new exhibit on the Holocaust, planned to open in 2000.
Auschwitz - Birkenau State Museum, Oswiecim ul. Wiezniow Oswiecimia 20
phone +48 033 843-20-22; fax +48 033 843-22-27