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UNESCO approves Auschwitz name change

Published on June 27, 2007

27 June 2007

Warsaw (dpa) – UNESCO has approved a request by the government of Poland to rename the Second World War Nazi death camp Auschwitz, the Polish Ministry of Culture announced Wednesday.

The most notorious of Nazi Germany’s death camps which claimed the lives of as many as 1.5 million people, most of them European Jews, was officially called the “Auschwitz Concentration Camp” since the end of the Second World War.

Last year the Polish government asked the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) to change the name of the World Heritage Site in a bid to avoid confusion over its historical origin.

Polish Culture Ministry spokesman Jan Kasprzyk told Deutsche Presse Agentur by telephone Wednesday that UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee had officially approved “Auschwitz-Birkenau. The Nazi German Concentration and Extermination Camp (1940-1945).”

The UNESCO World Heritage Committee made the decision Wednesday at a session in New Zealand, Kasprzyk said.

Poland’s request for a name-change came after a string of incidents over the last decade in which international media have mistakenly referred to the camp as “Polish” due to its location in Poland.

Poland’s Foreign Ministry made numerous requests for corrections to be issued by both broadcast and print media. Many of them, however, met with resistance from senior editors.

Synonymous with the death of more than 6 million European Jews in the Holocaust, Auschwitz was established in the Nazi-German occupied southern Polish town of Oswiecim in June 1940.

It grew rapidly to become the largest Nazi death camp, a key element in German dictator Adolf Hitler’s “Final Solution” plan to kill Europe’s estimated 11 million ethnic Jews.

According to historians at the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, between 1.1 and 1.5 million people perished at the camp, either asphyxiated with Zyklon B gas in its notorious gas chambers or from starvation, disease or exhaustion.

Ninety per cent of the victims were European Jews – men, women and children – most of whom perished in the gas chambers. Poles, Roma and Soviet prisoners of war were among its other prisoners and victims.

Despite knowing the truth about the infrastructure of death at Auschwitz, Western Allied forces failed to bomb railway lines which brought prisoners from across Europe or its infamous gas chambers and crematoria.


Subject: German news