Scrapbookpages Blog

June 22, 2011

all visitors to Auschwitz will be shepherded by guides

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: — furtherglory @ 12:07 pm

On February 18, 2011, the New York Times published an article written by Michael Kimmelman with the headline “Auschwitz Shifts From Memorializing to Teaching.”  The article has this sentence:  “All or nearly all visitors will be shepherded by guides to field questions and keep crowds moving.”  I’m glad that I got to see Auschwitz when it was still possible to tour the camp without a guide.

Piotr Cywinski, the director of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, was quoted as saying this:

“To me the whole educational system regarding the Holocaust, which really got under way during the 1990s, served its purpose in terms of supplying facts and information. But there is another level of education, a level of awareness about the meaning of those facts. It’s not enough to cry. Empathy is noble, but it’s not enough.”

This is the theme to which officials here return often. Auschwitz, they say, must find ways to engage young people (some 850,000 students came last year), so they leave feeling what the director called “responsibility to the present.”

As I understand it, this means that students learn at Auschwitz that they must take responsibility for stopping genocide in the present day.  What this also means is that the days of investigators going to Auschwitz and taking samples from the walls of buildings is now in the past.  Visitors must stay on the beaten path and listen to their tour guide.  They cannot poke around on their own and discover things.