“To postwar Europe, Auschwitz became a permanent reference point that fully justifies the entire postwar effort at creating a different Europe that is new, more human, and sensitive. Today, when there is so much talk about the crisis of Europe, it is worth remembering this.” These are the words that we can read in the report of the Auschwitz Memorial for the year 2011. 72 pages of a colourful Polish-English publication present information about the most important events of 2011.
In the introduction to the report, the Museum’s director, Piotr M.A. Cywiński, writes about the European dimension of the history of Auschwitz: “On the day, we failed the examination. In the time of the Shoah every pillar of Europe crumbled—the age–old foundations of ideas and law, the Christian moral order, and all the achievements of humanism and the Enlightenment. It all proved too weak. The continent was dominated by passivity toward an evil that Europe itself had generated After that war, like no other war, Europe had to change. The old continent had to be thought through anew. Auschwitz, in this sense, lies at the very heart of the European experience. It is the greatest center of the Shoah, the symbol of a monstrous whole.”
A lot of space in the report is occupied by preservation work, as well as the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation, whose task is to ensure co-financing for such work. In the summary of three years of operation of the Foundation, we can read, “17 countries, 3 cities, numerous companies and hundreds of people around the world have already joined the project of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation. This mobilisation allowed for a collection of declarations about the contribution of EUR 97 million to the Fund.” The first work financed from interest obtained from the Fund will commence this year.
The report also analyses last year’s attendance at the Museum. Let us recollect: in 2011, the Auschwitz Memorial was visited by 1 million 405 thousand people. This is a record number in the history of the Memorial. It is important to note that over a million visitors were young people, to whom activities of the International Centre of Education about Auschwitz and the Holocaust are addressed. The report also includes information concerning the projects and seminars organised by the Centre.
Other subjects mentioned in the report include: new exhibitions and exhibitions in the course of preparation, voluntary service and student internship, new publications, directions of research work, as well as new items in the Museum Archives and Collections and their protection. An important element of the report is also the financial statement and the list of donors who support the Museum. The text is accompanied by photographs presenting the most important events in the Memorial, as well as reproductions of works of art, artefacts and archival documents.