Today, I was introduced to Marta Berecka, head of Educational Projects for the ICEAH (International Centre for Education about Auschwitz and the Holocaust), in block 12, just next door to my living quarters actually. Marta works closely with the exhibition department, and together, both departments report to Deputy Director Andzrej Kacorzyk, with whom I’ll be meeting later in the week. I’m sure you’re all beside yourselves knowing that. Well, these two departments are together on the front lines of education, and their work in raising awareness and deepening knowledge about Auschwitz is absolutely vital. I’m excited to be with them this week! The first part of the day was to observe the Yad Vashem national exhibitin in block 27. After an emotional exhibiton, though the former prisoner barrack, I was introduced to something very new and exciting: a reflection room, full of computers and educational resources for guests.
On each computer, guests could view a series of 3-5 minute presentations by key scholars on a variety of difficult questions. An outstanding lineup of some of the worlds greatest topical intellectuals was presented: Christopher Browning, Rabbi Michael Schudrich, Omer Bartov, Auschwitz Museum Director Piotr Cywinski, Yehuda Bauer, David Bankier Z’l, Fr. Email Shofani, and many others! Each one had provided a clear interpretation of the hardest questions to answer: Was there a God during the Shoah? Can a victim also be a bystander or a perpetrator? How did Christian Denominations respond to the Holocaust? Why Didn’t the allies bomb Auschwitz? These are topics that are difficult to address when museum visitors come in large groups, as they often do, but here in this room, people have an aopportunity to personally reflect on feedback from experts regarding the most difficult issues that spawn from Auschwitz.
When groups schedule appointments to utilize this facility, the museum requests a discussion following the guests’ reflections, moderated by carefully trained museum representatives. This is so amazing–it’s one immeasureably strong way to provide visitors with an unforgettable experience to gain deeper knowledge about the past, that few museums offer in such a way today.
I am impressed.