it's just a part of you

Visits by young people to Auschwitz-Birkenau

This exhibition's aim is to communicate the benefits of youth visits to the former concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. The young people involved, from Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Poland, all visited Auschwitz-Birkenau in the recent or more distant past.

No academic research has been carried out on the effects of youth education on the Second World War, or of Shoah education. However, these 22 young people express themselves in an impressive and positive way on the long-lasting effects of their visits, and they are representative of many, many others.

They speak of this journey as a very powerful experience, affecting their outlook on life in general, and political and moral issues in particular. The importance of the presence of camp survivors cannot be overstated.

Austrian group in Birkenau, 1994

As we enter the last decade in which it will be practically possible for camp survivors to undertake these trips and communicate their experiences directly to younger people, it is important to initiate discussion on a European level on possible ways of supporting and co-ordinating these trips. There is room for further development of effective programmes for different educational levels, and for the planning and facilitation of visits to the camps by multi-national groups.Youth visits to Auschwitz-Birkenau have in general been very effective. They are an excellent tool for the long-term countering of prejudice and racism, but a tool so far underemployed.

The content of this exhibition comes from the young people themselves. We asked the participants to have themselves photographed by a friend, using the disposable cameras we sent out. Each wrote one text of self-introduction, and one text expressing their feelings about the effect of the visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau. The texts shown in the exhibition are in the original languages. English translations can be found in this website. The only changes in the text have been to shorten them, or have resulted from the difficulties of translation.

Belgian group in Auschwitz, 1991


The Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

The Museum is visited annually by 500,000 people, most of them young, from 35 countries.The purpose of the museum is the preservation of the camp and the artifacts which have remained as silent witnesses to mass murder. The history of Auschwitz is communicated through both guided tours and academic publications.

The Museum works closely with Yad Vashem in Jerusalem and with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington.

The Museum attaches great importance to collaboration with camp survivors from many countries, whose personal experiences and memories are an essential element in the history of Auschwitz.

French group in Auschwitz, 1997


The International Youth Meeting Center Oswiecim/Auschwitz

The Youth Meeting Center was set up by a large number of individuals and organisations from Germany and Poland, all of them involved in the process of German-Polish reconciliation and the dialogue between Christians and Jews. It was opened in December 1986.

Young people of different nationalities meet each other, visit Auschwitz-Birkenau, talk with camp survivors, and debate themes such as nationalism, racism, antisemitism and tolerance. The Center aims to be a place where cultural, religious and language barriers, and prejudices can be overcome, and where there is space for dialogue and contemplation.

The International Youth Meeting Center collaborates closely with the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum. Since 1986, the Center has been visited by 1500 groups from many European countries.

German/Polish group in Birkenau, 1997


The International Auschwitz Committee
Australia Greece Russia
Austria Hungary Rumania
Belgium Israel Slovakia
Czech Republic Italy Slovenia
France Luxembourg Ukraine
Germany The Netherlands USA

The International Auschwitz Committee was founded in 1952 by survivors of the concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau, with several objectives:

Group from Luxembourg in Birkenau, 1997

In the context of the increasing manifestations of discrimination, racism and antisemitism, and in particular the emergence of denial of what happened in Auschwitz, it was decided at the general assembly in 1992 to afford the opportunity of membership to all organisations actively concerned in giving 'Auschwitz' an important place in the moral and political debate and in the education of new generations. At this time the board was also expanded to include younger members, besides the camp survivors. Today many organisations from 19 different countries are affiliated to the International Auschwitz Committee. All of them include youth education among their activities.

Dutch group in Auschwitz, 1995


This exhibition was made possible by funding from:

The Association of Dutch Insurers
Siemens NV Nederland
LOT Polish Airlines

SFMO, Stichting Fondsenwerving Militaire Oorlogs- en Dienstslachtoffers
The Dutch Auschwitz Committee Foundation
Etty Hillesum Foundation
The International Auschwitz Committee
The International Youth Meeting Center, Oswiecim

Polish/German group in Birkenau, 1997

Concept Carry van Lakerveld, Amsterdam
Christoph Heubner, Berlin
Construction design Antoon Versteegde, Uden
Graphic design
Photography Pieter Boersma, Amsterdam
Carla van Thijn, Amsterdam
English translations Richard Blake, Amsterdam
Co-ordination Carry van Lakerveld, Amsterdam
Production Nederlands Auschwitz Comité, Amsterdam
Fondation Auschwitz, Brussels
Comité Auschwitz Luxembourg
Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, Oswiecim
International Youth Meeting Center, Oswiecim
Amicale d'Auschwitz, Paris
Lagergemeinschaft Auschwitz, Vienna
Gaston Anen, Soleuvre
Françoise Bottois, Rouen
Maria Diduch, Huisen
Christoph Heubner, Berlin
Susanne Kowarc, Vienna
Carry van Lakerveld, Amsterdam
Mady Moyse-Jacob, Luxembourg
Krystyna Oleksy, Oswiecim
George Rollinger, Luxembourg
Leszek Szuster, Oswiecim
Irena Szymanska, Oswiecim
Yannis Thanassekos, Brussels

Austria Claudia Irrmann, Albert Kropf, Astrid Kunze,
Sonja Mittermayr, Herta Neiss, Andreas Neiss
Belgium Mikaël Dreesen, Véronique Lebacq,
Claude Remacle, Gill Venturelli
France Esther-Guylaine Abdelaziz, Mathieu 'DFOR' Deodat,
Christophe Marcheteau
Germany Oliver Geremia Cioffo, Manuela Greifzu,
Halise Özbey, Monika Schween
Luxembourg Nicolas Anen, Frenz Biver, Melanie Noesen
The Netherlands Judith Becker, Daniel Blocq, Marieke Brouwer,
Gerry Faber, Nienke Ledegang, Anke Oude Brunink
Poland Tomek Laweczka, Sabina Stec, Wojtek
Stupnicki, Pawel Wawrzuta, Elzbieta Wezner


Afterwards, it's just a part of you - Visits by young people to Auschwitz-Birkenau
[ Participants ] [ Exhibition ]