Auschwitz museum creates online Holocaust history course

24th November 2010, Comments 0 comments

Museum authorities at the site of the Nazi German death camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau on Wednesday said they were launching an online study programme to teach people about the Holocaust.

Museum spokesman Pawel Sawicki told AFP that the pilot project would begin Thursday, and would be divided into two parts.

One will examine the broad history of the Holocaust, Nazi Germany's programme of genocide during World War II which claimed the lives of six million Jews.

The other will centre on the history of Auschwitz-Birkenau, set up in southern Poland during Germany's wartime occupation.

One million Jews perished there, mostly in the camp's notorious gas chambers, along with tens of thousands of others including Poles, Roma and Soviet prisoners of war.

Eighty Polish-speaking students have signed up for the pilot distance-learning programme.

The museum said it hoped to gather funding to translate the teaching materials into English in order to broaden participation.

Project chief Jacek Marciniak said one of the goals of the programme was to counter erroneous information about the death camp in cyberspace.

"The Internet is full of information which is sometimes unreliable and even outright false," he said. "This initiative will allow access to reliable, in-depth knowledge that is approved by the museum".

The Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum is state-run.

Polish authorities, plus revenues from publications and guided tours, cover most of the annual four to five million euros (5.4-6.8 million dollars) needed to maintain the site.

Last year saw the creation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation to seek global donations and ensure the long-term survival of the enduring symbol of the Holocaust.

On Tuesday, the International Auschwitz Committee which oversees the site launched a 6.3-million-euro (8.5-million-dollar) appeal to create an education centre.

"This is an essential project for the museum, to allow it to fulfil its education mission," said Sawicki.

"There isn't a proper education centre and for logistical reasons we can't handle the growing number of groups interested in studying the Holocaust," he added.

© 2010 AFP

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