IAC Vice President Christoph Heubner thanked Volkswagen and said: “We are grateful to Volkswagen for the political position it has adopted, especially at this time. Volkswagen has been a reliable partner for Memorial Site work at Auschwitz for more than 30 years. About 3,300 Volkswagen apprentices from Germany and Poland have already been involved in this work. Today’s donation will provide significant support for education and research projects of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial Site.“ For these projects, the IAC is cooperating with respected international partner organizations such as the Yad Vashem Remembrance Center in Jerusalem (Israel), the Washington Holocaust Memorial (USA) and the Arolsen Archives of the Red Cross International Tracing centre in Bad Arolsen (Hessen).
Gunnar Kilian said: “Information and the historic truth prevent anti-Semitism and xenophobia. The murders of Kassel and Halle have highlighted the urgency of this matter. This is why Volkswagen is supporting international education and research projects of the International Auschwitz Committee.”
Bernd Osterloh emphasized: “Colleagues from Volkswagen, including many apprentices, have worked at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial Site for more than 30 years to ensure that memories of the victims of National Socialism do not fade. Anyone who has stood in front of the victims’ shoes and suitcases with tears in their eyes is immune to right-wing demagogues and their messages of hatred. The new digitization project for the archived data of National Socialist murders will widen the protective effect of the truth to the public at large.”
The donation by the Volkswagen Group will provide continued funding for the two-year joint identity research project. Through the digitization of archive data held by the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial Site as well as the Red Cross Arolsen Archives, it will be possible to carry out comparative analyses faster and more easily in the future. Innovative technology will help clarify the fate of people who were deported to Auschwitz and interned and murdered there. The objective is to identify deportation routes, death marches and forced labor assignments. Victims of the National Socialist dictatorship are to regain their identity and families are to be given certainty concerning the destinations of their deported ancestors and the places where they were murdered.
In addition, the Volkswagen donation will support the education and information work of Auschwitz-Birkenau Immoral Site with educationalists from across the globe. The project started with the conference “Auschwitz – Never Again. Really?” held in the summer. Topics included the genocides in Cambodia and Rwanda as well as the heritage of survivors. Further educational conferences are to follow.
“Auschwitz – Remembrance and Responsibility”
The initiative started in December 1987 with a seminar for apprentices from Wolfsburg in Auschwitz. Over the past 30 years, 3,289 young Germans and Poles have taken part in youth meetings in Oświęcim (Poland). Together, the young women and men from the two countries help to preserve the Auschwitz Memorial Site. For instance, they clear weeds from pathways, repair barbed wire fences, restore the enamel tableware used by former inmates or preserve the shoes of the victims. Also they talk to eyewitnesses who survived Auschwitz concentration camp and the extermination camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau. The Memorial Site is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The International Auschwitz Committee (IAC) was founded in 1952 by survivors to ensure that Auschwitz would not be forgotten. The committee includes organizations, foundations and Holocaust survivors from 19 countries. Information on the committee is available in English, French, German and Polish at www.auschwitz.info.
About 1.5 million people were murdered by the Nazi regime at Auschwitz concentration camp and the extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. The Red Army liberated the few survivors on January 27, 1945.
Note: A report on Memorial Site work with interviews, images and films, and the latest photos are available at www.volkswagen-newsroom.com.