History Society – the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz II-Birkenau.

_80480260_80480259As agreed, we are going to spend the next the next two weeks considering the holocaust to mark the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz II-Birkenau. There is a good account of the day from the BBC here.

At the end of our work I would like you to read this post and the comments that follow on from it. It sets out the debate for and against the idea that the former Nazi death camp should now be allowed to crumble away. When you have done this, post what you think (and why) below.

Mr Kydd.

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9 Responses to History Society – the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz II-Birkenau.

  1. Mr Towl says:

    There are still those who deny the holocaust and, after all those who survived the camps are gone, there will still be holocaust deniers. Auschwitz should remain as a stark reminder of what ordinary people were able to do to other ordinary people.

  2. Mrs. Bastone says:

    A good point made by Mr. Towl. I have visited Auschwitz and there is a real atmosphere there. It should be kept as a museum to remind us of what humanity is capable of at our worst.

  3. Mrs Bass says:

    I think when looking at something like this, you have to start from the perspective of what you’re trying to achieve. If your goal is that as many people as possible know about the Holocaust and all that mankind is capable of, then it could be queried whether spending a large amount of money to maintain one historic site in one geographic area, is the best use of money. Would it be better, for instance, to spend it on a website that could be accessed the world over which contained spatial image mapping of a walkthrough of the site that could be accessed by a much larger number of people and therefore have greater impact?

    Having said that, I personally feel that it should be preserved. One of the main reasons that the site costs so much to maintain is due to the sheer number of people that still visit it. This is proof in itself that it is still really relevant to modern society. While it is still so culturally significant and stirs such emotion in people it is the best way to ensure the memory of the Holocaust is preserved.

  4. Mr Jarrett says:

    Personally, I don’t see what purpose Auschwitz II-Birkenau serves any longer. Having visited other concentration camps, I found it to be an oddly sterile experience; the importance of what happened in these places lies in the story rather than the brickwork and I believe the preserved camps encourage us to focus our attention in the wrong places. An understanding of the holocaust requires a knowledge of the communities and regions emptied of their people, of the cultures which were nearly eradicated, and of the human experience which allowed people to behave in the ways which they did to other men, women and children. Continued obsessing about gas chambers and ovens is misguided and unhelpful in the twenty-first century.

  5. Mr Padrick says:

    I do not think Auschwitz should be actively preserved once the last survivor of that horror dies, largely because of the inherent decay of memory.

    The memory of an event can only belong to the person who experienced the event. No one, no matter how close to that person, how familiar with the event – not even someone who was there at the same event – can possess the same memory. Memory by nature is fluid and, as time progresses, becomes increasingly questionable. At the death of the person with the actual memory, only story and anecdote remain.

    The memories retained by preserving Auschwitz are becoming increasingly tenuous with each passing year; they will decline in number with each survivor’s death, and the buildings will inevitably become just another historical landmark of decreasing meaning with the further passage of time: another Omaha Beach, Vimy Ridge, Gettysburg, Hastings or Marathon. Without the actual memories of the survivors to keep its horror ‘alive’, in time Auschwitz will become little more than a sort of ghoulish curiosity at which tourists on 3, 6, 9 or even 12-hour tours may attempt an approximation of what it must have been like, have a chance to look behind closed doors and experience the dread of what they might ‘see’.

    Auschwitz, once the last survivor dies, can no longer hold direct memories and will thus become a shell. I think after the final survivor has finally attained whatever peace their death delivers, the camp should be allowed to crumbling slowly into dust and nothingness – the only fitting conclusion once the active memory of the horrors has gone.

  6. Mr Kydd says:

    Henry’s post
    I find that, although many people have never visited an extermination camp, the thought alone (that Auschwitz still stands) can act as a reminder for what crimes happened 70 years ago. However, I cannot believe that if Auschwitz were to crumble away the study and memory of such an event would also, one day, fade with it. I personally have never been to a death camp and honestly don’t really want to. It’s the knowing that needs to stay with us and not the ‘experience’.

  7. Mr Kydd says:

    Harry’s post
    Personally I believe that Auschwitz II-Birkenau should be preserved. We cannot allow one of the most prominent death camps which contributed to one of the biggest atrocieties of modern history to simply crumble into the ground. If it fades from the earth it will then only seep into the history books. Surely it is better to upkeep this camp and keep the restoration occuring so people can physically see/feel history rather than read about it in a book or online.

  8. Mr Kydd says:

    Simona’s post
    I believe that this camp and many others, with the same history, should remain as they are because they are part of the past of the world. The millions of visitors per year at Auschwitz show that people are still interested to experience somehow what the Jews felt back at the time. I think the government should consider the fact that it doesn’t matter how much money the camp has taken to be preserved it is still history and it should remain that way.

  9. Mr Kydd says:

    Oli’s post
    I’ve heard people saying that without Auschwitz, the Holocaust wouldn’t be remembered as well as it should be, it has an impact on people. I believe however, that the Holocaust should be remembered through memory rather than through an actual place. There are too many people visiting each year, last year there were just over 1.3 million people, at what point does it turn from a part of history to a tourist attraction? the quantity of people is eroding the structures, such as the stairs in particular, for an obvious reason. Auschwitz was only made to last a short while and the years of harsh polish weather have started to have a visual effect. It is currently costing the government a large sum of money to preserve this camp and will continue to do so, if it is kept. I think it should be allowed to naturally decay, with limited number of people going a year, thus reducing the cost to the government and limiting the decay due to tourists. If anyone should get to decide what happens to it, it should be the last remaining survivors who were actually there as it is their legacy, not ours.

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