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  5. Volkswagen and International Auschwitz Committee honor 30 years of Memorial Site work

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Volkswagen and International Auschwitz Committee honor 30 years of Memorial Site work

  • Exhibition “Eine deutliche Spur” opens at DRIVE. Volkswagen Group Forum in Berlin
  • CEO Matthias Müller: “As a society and as a company, we must shoulder our responsibility for freedom and democracy and take it seriously.”
  • Auschwitz survivor Marian Turski honors the contribution of young Germans and Poles to the preservation of the Memorial Site, international understanding, tolerance and democracy

The Volkswagen Group and the International Auschwitz Committee (IAC) have worked together on the maintenance of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial Site for 30 years. In connection with this anniversary, the public exhibition “Eine deutliche Spur” is now open at DRIVE. Volkswagen Group Forum in Berlin (until December 8). The CEO of Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft, Matthias Müller, opened the photo exhibition on Wednesday evening together with Group and General Works Council Chairman Bernd Osterloh at a ceremony with about 150 invited guests from industry, politics and society.

Matthias Müller said: “As a society and as a company, we must shoulder our responsibility for freedom and democracy and take it seriously. This must be said with even greater determination at a time when populism and nationalist thinking are shaking the foundations of a united Europe. In future, Volkswagen will continue to play its part in keeping memories alive and will carry on with its work at the Memorial Site together with the International Auschwitz Committee.”

Bernd Osterloh emphasized: “Volkswagen also had its share in the wave of destruction unleashed by Germany throughout Europe. It is a considerable achievement that the recognition of this historic truth is now part of Volkswagen’s mission and is practiced by Volkswagen. This is repeatedly demonstrated by the commitment of our apprentices and the participation of master craftsmen and craftswomen and junior managers in projects together with the International Auschwitz Committee.”

Marian Turski from Warsaw, a survivor of Auschwitz, said: “Today, we Auschwitz survivors feel a great sense of gratitude. 30 years of work on the Memorial Site represent a historic landmark which is not only significant for German-Polish dialogue in politically troubled times. This is why we are especially thankful for the many meetings and discussions with German apprentices and Polish vocational school students. These young people have become our ambassadors. They are committed to international understanding, tolerance and democracy. They carry our history forward to the future. For future generations, they will preserve our Memorial Site which, more than any other location, bears witness to the madness of anti-Semitism and racial hatred, immeasurable human suffering and mass murder.”

Many invited guests attended the opening ceremony. They included Sigmar Gabriel, Vice-Chancellor and Foreign Minister of Germany, Christoph Heubner, Vice-President of the IAC, representatives of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial Site and the International Youth Meeting Centre in Oświęcim/Auschwitz as well as apprentices from the Volkswagen Group. The exhibition “Eine deutliche Spur” presents 30 years of work on the Memorial Site using large photo panels. Apart from historic photos, the exhibition shows young people performing maintenance work at the Nazi extermination camp at Birkenau, meeting Auschwitz survivors and talking to eyewitnesses and international guests. The photos were taken at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial Site and the International Youth Meeting Centre in Oświęcim/Auschwitz.

Apprentices from the Volkswagen Group and Polish vocational school students have played a key role in work on the Memorial Site from the outset. The initiative that started in December 1987 with a seminar for apprentices from Wolfsburg in Auschwitz has since brought more than 3,000 young Germans and Poles to the Youth Meeting Centre in Oświęcim (Poland). Together, the young women and men from the two countries help to preserve the Auschwitz Memorial Site. They clear weeds from pathways, repair barbed wire fences, preserve the shoes of the victims and talk to eyewitnesses who survived Auschwitz concentration camp and Auschwitz-Birkenau
extermination camp. The Memorial Site is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Volkswagen Group is donating a Volkswagen Transporter to the International Auschwitz Committee. The vehicle, with a double cab and flat-bed cargo area, is to be delivered in the New Year and will be used for restoration work on the former internment huts at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial 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.

The exhibition “Eine deutliche Spur” can be viewed until Friday, December 8, 2017 at DRIVE. Volkswagen Group Forum in Berlin, Unter der Linden 21a. The exhibition is open from Monday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Entry is free of charge.