Polish convicts to undergo resocialisation at Auschwitz

7th May 2009, Comments 0 comments

The program is intended to ‘show convicts what the disappearance of all moral and social norms can lead to,’ officials say.

Warsaw -- The museum at the Nazi German Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp and Poland's penitentiary services want convicted criminals to visit the site as part of a resocialisation program, officials said Monday.

"It is intended to show convicts what the disappearance of all moral and social norms can lead to," Jozef Drazniowski, penitentiary services spokesman for Krakow, southern Poland, told AFP.

"At the site we teach history, we commemorate this place but this program will perhaps also allow the shaping of moral attitudes," spokesman for the state museum at Auschwitz-Birkenau, Bartosz Bartyzel told AFP.

Initially, the museum organised seminars for prison guards and educators from the Krakow area.

"We will now choose the prisoners who are to participate in the project. They will be convicts serving sentences for light offences. Participation will be voluntary," Drazniowski said.

"Even if just some of the participants benefit from this lesson, it will be worth it," Bartyzel said.

Each stage of the resocialisation project will be planned by experts and supervised by psychologists, Drazniowski added, admitting the idea had raised eyebrows.

"As a former prisoner, I have my doubts about the idea of resocialisation being carried out by showing (convicts) prisons that were even more cruel," Auschwitz-Birkenau survivor and Poland's former foreign minister Wladyslaw Bartoszewski was quoted as saying by the Monday edition of Poland's Gazeta Wyborcza daily.

Nazi Germany systematically killed more than one million people, mostly European Jews, at the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp located in the then Nazi-occupied southern Polish town of Oswiecim between 1940 and 1945.

The site was part of German dictator Adolf Hitler's plan of genocide against European Jews, six million of whom perished at the hands of the Nazis during World War II.


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