In the project, we deal with the history of the site and prepare an information folder in English on the history of the subcamps, which were established in the Nazi era at production sites where prisoners had to perform forced labour in the armaments industry and agriculture.
Oświęcim is a small city in the south of Poland. It is known throughout the world under its German name, Auschwitz, as a symbol of the Holocaust. Not many know that the town has a history spanning 800 years. 8,000 Jews lived in Oświęcim, the Jewish name of the town with a total population of 14,000 before World War II. Jewish life, culture and numerous synagogues shaped life in this town for over 400 years.
All of this changed when Oświęcim was occupied in 1939 and the concentration camp of Auschwitz and the extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau were set up. During Auschwitz’s existence, almost 50 subcamps were created and in the vicinity of Oświęcim, in what was known as the Interessengebiet, there were eight agricultural subcamps and a complex of camps including the concentration camp KL Auschwitz III – Monowitz around the factory site of IG Farben.
During the international Summer camp, we want to explore this part of history and create an informative map in English in collaboration with local players. The map will provide background information on the complex of camps in Auschwitz and map the former subcamps, which are not part of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum today. Remains of the former camps and places of remembrance that one can visit are still to be found in these locations. We want to map former camps and places of remembrance systematically and document them, so that one can also seek out these places on their own.
The map will therefore contain information concerning the exact location of the former camps in today’s landscape, historical background information including accounts of survivors, the historical traces or remains that can still be found on site and places of remembrance (memorials, plaques, etc.).
Furthermore, hands-on work is also in the programme. We will be doing maintenance work on and looking after the graves in the Jewish cemetery of Oświęcim – removing weeds as well as undergrowth and cleaning tombstones. Working on the Jewish cemetery is an active contribution to remembrance. Our commitment is a way to remember the people who rest in these cemeteries and those who can no longer look after their relatives’ graves because they were displaced or murdered by the Nazis.