On Friday and Saturday (20 and 21 May 2022), over one hundred Natolin students and staff members participated in a two-day educational visit to the Former German Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp Auschwitz-Birkenau, which also included three specialised lectures delivered by the experts from the State Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau. This was already the third promotion of Natolin students that could benefit from this unique tailor-made programme prepared by the Museum’s International Centre for Education on Auschwitz and the Holocaust (ICEAH).
The first day started with a visit to Auschwitz I guided by the museum educators, which included the so-called reserve block number 3, preserved almost intact since the camp's liberation and accessible only for selected study groups. Inside the block, the students could see i.a., the “gaskammer”— two prisoner rooms joined together to serve in 1943 as a provisional chamber for disinfecting clothing with Zyklon B. Its use resulted in the blue coloration visible on the walls.
Topics of memory, commemoration, and Holocaust denial were expertly discussed during the visit, which was followed by two lectures. In the first one, Ms Agnieszka SIERADZKA from the Collections Department of the Museum covered the topic and several fascinating stories related to numerous objects of art created in the camp or related to the camp. The second one was a unique insight into the challenges of preserving the authentic buildings and material objects kept at the Museum, provided by Ms Margrit BORMANN from the Preservation Department. The speaker also discussed some significant discoveries during the preservation procedures.
The second day started with the guided visit to Auschwitz II-Birkenau, encompassing i.a. the tower at the Gate of Death, the selection ramp, the monument to the victims, ruins of two crematoria, several wooden and brick blocks, including the Death Block, the children's block and latrine as well as the washing room. The Natolin students had another opportunity to see the material evidence of genocide and learn about the unprecedented scale and methods of this crime, the victims, but also the perpetrators, and their ideology.
The visit was summarised in the presentation delivered by Mr Łukasz LIPIŃSKI from the Press Office of the Museum, who discussed the topic of the symbolism of Auschwitz and challenges related to its presence in the mediasphere. The speaker also outlined the role and mission of the Museum and the activities it takes up to disseminate knowledge and protect the Memorial and its iconic symbols from being abused for commercial or ideological purposes.