Poland excursion of the Styria department
From the 9th to 13th of September a group of Auslandsdienst candidates from the Austrian state of Styria made an educational excursion to the south of Poland. In Krakow the group visited multiple museums und places of commemoration such as the Schindler’s Factory, the old Jewish cemetery and the Galicia Jewish Museum, one of our Gedenkdienst partner organizations. In addition, enough time remained to get to know the city a little better. They enjoyed the view from the Wawel Castle and took a walk on the Rynek Główny, one of the largest medieval market squares in Europe. The main destination of the excursion was the former concentration camp Auschwitz (Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum) – a symbol for the Holocaust and the horrendous atrocities committed by the Nazis. While the Auschwitz concentration camp plays an important role in German education on the Holocaust and the number of visitors from the German school classes are correspondingly high, Austrian visitors are at the lower end. This may be as well be related to the bigger distance – but not only. Currently Austria’s permanent exhibition at the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum is being redesigned to reflect the change of the national consciousness about the role of Austria in the Second World War – from a victim to a perpetrator nation. To discuss the new exhibition we recently welcomed Claire Fritsch, legal officer at the National Fund of the Republic of Austria for Victims of National Socialism and the head of the coordinating body for the redesign of the Austrian memorial in our Wednesday-conference. At the end of the trip current Gedenkdiener Paul Sautner received his colleagues at the Auschwitz Jewish Center.