The INTERNATIONAL YOUTH MEETING CENTER IN OśWIęCIM/AUSCHWITZ is an
educational institution whose campus lies between the center of the
Polish city of
Oświęcim and the former German concentration camp of
Auschwitz . More than one million persons, mostly Jewish and Polish,
were murdered at Auschwitz during the Second World War (1939–1945).
Proposed in 1971, the Center was opened in 1986 following years of
planning, negotiations, and fundraising. It seeks to "develop the
The Polish and German names for the Center are MIęDZYNARODOWY DOM SPOTKAń MłODZIEżY W OśWIęCIMIU and INTERNATIONALE JUGENDBEGEGNUNGSSTäTTE IN OśWIęCIM/AUSCHWITZ, respectively; the two names are conjoined in the abbreviation MDSM/IJBS for the Center.
* 1 History * 2 Facilities * 3 Programming * 4 See also * 5 References * 6 Further reading * 7 External links
The idea for the construction of a youth meeting center in Poland
came from Volker von Törne (1934–1980), who saw an opportunity for
creating it following the signing of the 1970 Treaty of Warsaw between
In the late 1970s and early 1980s the proposal was very
controversial. The location of the buildings, the architecture of the
project, the operations as well as the Polish partner for the ARSP
were contentious issues. In 1978,
Andreas Maislinger unsuccessfully
The project received the support of many survivors of the concentration camps at Dachau , Stutthof , Buchenwald and Auschwitz, and by December 1985 a turning point was reached. Alfred Przybylski, former prisoner #471 at the Auschwitz camp and the representative of the Union of Polish Architects, supported by the plans drawn up by German architect Helmut Morlok, contributed decisively to the realization of the project.
After obtaining contributions of 4.6 million Deutschmarks ($2.1 million), sufficient for 2/3 of the construction costs, ground was finally broken in May 1986. The handoff of the initial buildings to the foundation that operates it was celebrated on December 7, 1986, which was the sixteenth anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Warsaw. The entire building project was completed in October, 1998. The Center is primarily supported by the Polish municipality of Oświęcim and by the ARSP, which sponsors three such centers. In 2010, the Center hosted more than 17,000 overnight stays by youth groups participating in its programs.
The Center has become well known in German-speaking Europe following release of the dramatic film Am Ende kommen Touristen (2007) (And Along Come Tourists ), which was partly filmed at the Center. The film was written and directed by Robert Thalheim . While the film's characters and story are fictional, in writing the screenplay Thalheim drew from his own experience as a German civilian service worker at the Center in 1996-97.
The Center is on one bank of the
Katrin Buchholz has described the architecture as follows: "Modesty in construction and form, simplicity in the interior furnishings, ... the center of the campus is a meeting place that is open in all directions ... where all can move or loiter freely and unobserved, and in which one can find community but also security, as well as time and space to be alone."
The Center sponsors activities of several types, including workshops to bring together groups of Polish and German students, seminars and development programs for adults and teachers, and exhibitions for general visitors. Groups using the Center typically stay for four or five days. In addition to visits to the remains of the concentration camps Auschwitz I, Auschwitz-Birkenau, and Auschwitz III-Monowitz, groups can plan excursions in the area, especially to the city of Kraków , and conversations can be arranged with experts on the major concerns of the Center.
The Center has been among the sites for the work of young German and Austrian citizens doing civilian service (Zivildienst) sponsored by the ARSP, the German Internationaler Bund, and by the Austrian Holocaust Memorial Service .
Anne Frank Educational Centre (Frankfurt) . A youth meeting center
supported by the
Anne Frank Foundation .
Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum . A museum and research
institution associated with the Auschwitz camps.
* International Youth Meeting Centre in Krzyżowa . A second youth
meeting center in Poland that is devoted to dialogue and
reconciliation between Poland and Germany. The Centre was founded
after an historic 1989 meeting of Polish Prime Minister Tadeusz
Mazowiecki and the German Federal Chancellor
* ^ Webber, Jonathan (2006). "Memory, Religion, and Conflict at
Auschwitz: A Manifesto". In Stier, Owen Baruch; Landres, J. Shawn.
Religion, Violence, Memory, and Place. Indiana University Press. p.
66. ISBN 9780253347992 .