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History and Dialogue in South East Europe: Renewing the “Ex-Yugoslav” Pavilion in Auschwitz-Birkenau


Within the framework of UNESCO's global initiative "Culture: a Bridge to Development," the Ministry of Civil Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina will host on 5 December 2012 in Sarajevo, with the support of the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe, Venice (Italy), the second meeting of the international steering committee in charge of coordinating the establishment of a joint exhibit space within the ex-Yugoslav pavilion (nr. 17) in the State Museum of Auschwitz-Birkenau, a site placed on the World Heritage List in 1979.

The first meeting, hosted by the Ministry of Culture, Media and Information Society of Serbia on 4 June 2012 in Belgrade, served to establish an international steering committee, comprising relevant Ministry representatives and Holocaust experts from each of the six successor states (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, Serbia, Slovenia, and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia), UNESCO, as well as representatives of the following internationally recognized institutions: Shoah Memorial (France), The Topography of Terror (Germany), Holocaust Memorial Museum (USA), with the participation as Observers of the National Fund for Victims of National Socialism (Austria) and the State Museum Auschwitz Birkenau (Poland). Members of the committee also agreed to create two sub-working groups: Strategic, technical and financial matters; and, Concept, themes and design of the joint exhibit.

This second meeting of the international steering group "Holocaust education and intercultural understanding in South-East Europe: renewing the 'Ex-Yugoslav' Pavilion in Auschwitz-Birkenau " will allow the six state coordinators of each working group to present the results of their work, and to discuss measures to be taken for the physical renovation of the entire pavilion, on the basis of the structural/static analysis commissioned by the Austrian National Fund for the Victims of National Socialism, and conveyed to the Auschwitz Museum. The meeting should also serve to define common approaches for the concept, themes, supporting documentation and design of the joint exhibit.

The objectives of this meeting resonate with UNESCO's overall mission to promote Holocaust education, as well as the role of museums as tools for intercultural understanding, research and dialogue. The meeting is supported by the UNESCO Venice Office through UNESCO's Intersectoral Platform for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence.