Auschwitz overhaul to fill gaps in Holocaust history


The International Auschwitz Council has unanimously agreed to major renovations at the former Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz - Birkenau in southern Poland. The site of the death camp has served as the oldest exhibition of the Holocaust. It is a living testament to the horror of the Second World War.

It's estimated that over one million people visit Auschwitz -Birkenau annually. Most of the exhibitions at the former Nazi death camp have been effective enough to stand the test of time since the place was made into a museum in the 1950's. But Jaroslaw Mensfelt from the Auschwitz museum says that the displays lack crucial information which would make the story behind them more realistic.

"There will be one thing added which has been missing for years.The introductory part. Who the victims were, who the perpetrators were, bystanders, all this introduction is missing."

The former Nazi concentration camp has been left the way the Soviet army found it when they liberated Auschwitz at the end of World War Two. A handful of wooden barracks still stand. The two remaining gas chambers which the Nazis failed to destroy have been sinking slowly into the ground.

In an attempt to save the sprawling site from further erosion, museum caretakers have come up with a scheme to build walls around these outdoor remnants of the Holocaust. Piotr Kadlick from the Union of Jewish communities says that the time is ripe to focus on all the people who perished during that time.

"It is important to do more work in Brzezinka as a kind of exposition given information about all the people that perished there, whether they were Roma and other nationalities. I believe that this isn't going to take something away from the camp, but enhance knowledge behind the exhibit."

Museum officials say that the watch towers, barracks and crematoria will be left intact. They also plan to leave unchanged the exhibitions often making the most lasting impression on visitors - the displays of hair, eyeglasses and other objects evoking the presence of the people who died there.