12.04.2013 - UNESCO Office in Venice

Renewing the “Ex-Yugoslav” Pavilion in Auschwitz-Birkenau: towards a common exhibition space

© JewishPostcardCollection.com/Stefanie Comfort - Old man

Within the framework of UNESCO’s global initiative “Culture: a Bridge to Development”, the Ministry of Culture of The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia will host on 18-19 April 2013 in Skopje, with the support of the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe, Venice (Italy), and in co-operation with the Holocaust Fund of the Jews from the country, the third meeting of the international steering committee in charge of coordinating the establishment of a joint exhibit space within the ex-Yugoslav pavilion (nr. 17) in the State Museum of Auschwitz-Birkenau, a site placed on the World Heritage List in 1979.

The first meeting, hosted by the Ministry of Culture, Information and Information Society of Serbia on 4 June 2012 in Belgrade, served to establish an international steering committee, comprising relevant Ministry representatives and Holocaust experts from each of the six successor states, 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 State Museum (Poland). Members of the committee also agreed to create two sub-working groups (Strategic, technical and financial matters; Concept, themes and design of the joint exhibit).

The second meeting, convened by the Ministry of Civil Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina on 5 December 2012 in Sarajevo, allowed the coordinators of each working group to present the results of their work, and to discuss measures to be taken for the physical renovation of the entire pavilion, on the basis of the structural/static analysis commissioned by the Austrian National Fund for the Victims of National Socialism, and conveyed to the Auschwitz Museum. The meeting also served to discuss common approaches for the concept, themes, supporting documentation and design of the joint exhibit.

This third meeting on Holocaust education and intercultural understanding in South-East Europe: renovating the “Ex-Yugoslav” Pavilion in Auschwitz-Birkenau  will serve to agree on chronologies and timelines, define a data reference document on deportees to Auschwitz, determine a mapping of existing documentation, archives and materials, agree on supporting collections, texts and materials that could be used for the common exhibit space which will be divided in 4 themes: Time and Space; Victims; Perpetrators and Collaborators; and, Resistants. The meeting will also comprise a visit to the new Holocaust Memorial Centre for the Jews from the country, inaugurated in Skopje in March 2011.

The objectives 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 the UNESCO Venice Office through UNESCO’s Intersectoral Platform for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence.  

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