1. Establishment of the Auschwitz and Birkenau Museum.
No longer than 2 years after the liberation of the camps located in Oświęcim and Brzezinka their former prisoners started speaking publicly about commemoration of the victims of KL Auschwitz. The group of former Polish prisoners of Auschwitz made an effort to protect the place and, more importantly, to make it available to visit for people who wanted to commemorate their dead families and friends, praying for them.On June 14, 1947 the first exhibition in this place was organized. In its opening ceremony about 50 thousands people were present and among them official Polish delegates, representatives of the Supreme Commission for the Investigation of Nazi Crimes, the Central Jewish Historical Comitee and delegates from the British, Czechoslovak and French Embasssies.
Shortly after this event, on July 2, 1947 the Polish government realised an Act on the preservation of this place changing it into National Museum of Oświęcim- Brzezinka. The document emphasizes the need of protection of this place for all time.
2. A Museum or a Memorial Site?
According to the act, the museum is primarily dedicated to secure the area of the former camp, collect the evidence prooving Nazis crimes commited in the Camp, elaborate on them and realise them for the public domain. There is also an ongoing debate whether anyone should call this place a museum, a memorial site or a cementary. Some perceive this place as a place of memory, whereas others call it a monument or a memorial institute. Nevertheless, the area of Auschwitz and Birkenau is often seen as a museum which comprizes all the above functions and terms. As a visitor one needs to remember that this place is, indeed, a cementary and the place where cruelty and atrocity took place.
3. Museum’s exhibitions and collections
After the liberation of the Camp, its area was searched and all belongings and possesions found there were included in the exhibition and collections shown in the museum. However, even today, from time to time we can hear news that a new item, was accidentally found in the camp area. Among the items found there we can enlist: Jewish prayer shawls, artificial limbs, glasses, shoes and suitcases. Most of them are exhibited for the whole year and constitute the main part of the museum’s collection. The collection includes (just to mention few of them) :
– around 110000 shoes
– around 3800 suitcases
-more than 12000 pots
– around 40 kg of spectacles
– around 4500 works of art, from which 2000 made by the prisoners.
Auschwitz – Birkenau Memorial Site has also enormous archives. Thousands of photographs and negatives are preserved there. Among them also camp documents and documents related to the camp. The archives include 48 volumes of „Death Books” as well as 248 volumes of documents of the Central Construction Board of the Waffen SS and Police in Auschwitz, not mentioning the other documents and writings related to the camp.
We highly recommend visiting the Memorial Site of Auschwitz- Birkenua. As a company that has been organizing such tours for a long time, we are aware of the demand on such tours. Our tours are always thoughtfully planned and organized. Check for our offer here: Tour to Auschwitz & Birkenau
1. Świebocka, Teresa; Jadwiga Pinderska-Lerch and Jarko Mensfelt. Auschwitz- Birkenau, The Past and The Presnent. Państwowe Muzeum Auschwitz and Birkenau, 2019.