Oswiecim, a small city in the south of Poland. Most known by its German name, Auschwitz and a worldwide symbol of the Holocaust. Not many know that the city has an over 800 yearlong history. Before World War II, 8,000 Jews lived in Oszpicin, the Jewish name for Oswiecim, amongst 14,000 inhabitants. For over 400 years, city was characterized its Jewish life, Jewish culture and synagogues.
All of this changed with the occupation of Oswiecim in September 1939, as well as the construction of the Auschwitz concentration camp and the extermination camp, Auschwitz-Birkenau. By the liberation of Auschwitz on January 27th, 1945, 1.1 million people had been murdered.
One of the few surviving Jews who returned was Szymon Kluger, who died in 2000. Today there are no more Jews left in the city and there are only a few traces bearing witness to Jewish life.
During the first part of the summer camp we will deal with the history of the Auschwitz concentration camp and with the persecution and murder of European Jews but also with encounter Jewish traditions, holidays and culture. We will deepen and further our knowledge about these topics but also analyse current events and reflect about what consequences they will have on our personal responsibility in the present and future.
During the second part of the summer camp we will search for traces and bring to light the traces of history and memory. Therefore we will research old images of synagogues and former Jewish life, take photos and publish them with the location’s coordinates in a special database. With the help from the coordinates and ‘augmented reality’ technique on smartphones, the history of the location will be brought to light – not only on site at the location but also world wide via the internet.
Furthermore we will also carry out conservation and maintenance work at the Jewish cemetery in Oświęcim – removing any weeds and undergrowth and cleaning the tombstones. The work on the Jewish cemetery is an active contribution to memory. With our commitment, we remember the people who are resting at the cemeteries and those who can no longer care for the graves because they were expelled or murdered by National Socialism.