25.06.2013 - UNESCO Office in Venice

Auschwitz-Birkenau: Building a new common exhibition in former Yugoslav Block 17

© 2013 Yad Vashem - Skopje, Jews rounded up prior to their deportation in the Monopol tobacco depot, March 1943, Archival Number 213/67

The Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and State Museum will host on 3-4 July 2013, with the support of the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe, Venice (Italy), a meeting of the international steering committee in charge of coordinating, under the auspices of UNESCO, the establishment of a renovated joint exhibit space within the ex-Yugoslav pavilion (Block 17).

The meeting will be opened by Piotr M. A. Cywiński, Director of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and State Museum, and by Anthony Krause, Head of the Culture Unit of the UNESCO Venice Office.

This April, in Ljubljana, was inaugurated the travelling exhibit “Imagining the Balkans. Identities and Memory in the long 19th century” where, for the first time, with the support of UNESCO, national museums across the region are engaging in a dialogue on national narratives. This new initiative by the successor States of the former Yugoslavia to create a joint exhibit space, under the auspices of UNESCO, at the State Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau, is extremely important, and a powerful symbol of the willingness in the region to promote dialogue through history and build shared memories”, emphasizes Anthony Krause.

The meeting will allow experts to present selected items and discuss common approaches for the contents of the joint exhibit. The renovated Block 17, which also comprises the Austrian pavilion (ground floor), is due to open in 2015, coinciding with the 70th anniversary of the Liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.

The experts will also use this opportunity to consult archives and visit other recently renovated national pavilions (Belgium, France, Hungary, Jewish, Netherlands, Roma) situated within the Memorial, a World Heritage site since 1979.

The international steering committee comprises relevant Ministry representatives and Holocaust experts from each of the six successor states (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, Serbia, Slovenia, and The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia), UNESCO, as well as representatives of the following internationally recognized institutions: Shoah Memorial (France), The Topography of Terror (Germany), Holocaust Memorial Museum (USA), with the participation as Observers of the National Fund for Victims of National Socialism (Austria) and the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and State Museum (Poland).

The objectives of this meeting resonate with UNESCO’s overall mission to promote Holocaust education, as well as the role of museums as tools for intercultural understanding, research and dialogue. The meeting is supported by UNESCO’s Intersectoral Platform for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence, and is organized within the overall framework of UNESCO’s global initiative “Culture: A Bridge to Development”.


Contact: Karel Fracapane, Programme Specialist, Section of Education for Peace and Human Rights at k.fracapane(at)unesco.org

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