Oświęcim Jewish Museum conducts anti-discrimination education

The Jewish Center, of which the museum is a part, is the only living trace of the Jewish presence in the town of Oświęcim, the name of which was changed to Auschwitz by the Germans. Kalbar/PAP

The Jewish Museum in Oświęcim, the site of the Auschwitz Nazi death camp, is running educational activities this autumn aimed at teachers, activists and NGOs, which will be conducted via internet due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the museum announced on Monday.

"'Auschwitz didn't fall out of the sky,'" pointed out Marian Turski, a camp survivor, during the last anniversary of the death camp's emergence. "The way of looking at the world, which enabled normal people to intern others in camps and then murder them, had its beginnings much earlier. It starts from the acceptance of seemingly small things: that you can laugh at somebody who is weaker or poorer, throw someone out of the group who is a little different to incite hatred against a whole group of people," the head of the Jewish Museum's educational department, Maciej Zabierowski, said on Monday.

The Oświęcim institution, in order to sensitise teachers and activists to the problem of exclusion and to teach them an appropriate reaction, has organised the Academy of Anti-discrimination Education course. "During the lessons, teachers get acquainted with the basics of social psychology, which clarifies how groups and individuals function, they analyse the history of discrimination of minority groups during the Second World War and learn tested methods of diagnosing and solving problems of discrimination and class exclusion," Zabierowski continued.

He went on to explain that this will be the fourth edition of the Academy. So far, almost 100 teachers from the Malopolskie and Silesia provinces have taken part. This time, however, the course will be run remotely because of coronavirus, using Zoom videoconferencing with individual and group work conducted online using Google Classroom.

Participation is free. The initiative is supported by the US Consulate General in Kraków, southern Poland. Its patron is the Polish Ombudsman.

The Jewish Center, of which the museum is a part, is the only living trace of the Jewish presence in the town of Oświęcim, the name of which was changed to Auschwitz by the Germans. The centre's aim is to cultivate memory of the town's Jewish inhabitants and also to educate about specific problems of the Holocaust and contemporary threats related to intolerance.