An Excursion to Auschwitz



The survivors of the Holocaust are important
to us, who were born after the war,
because they speak as witnesses, not as interpreters;
in order even to basically understand the dimension
of the crimes in Auschwitz, one has to see it!

A group of 45 students of the Linz University participated in an excursion to Auschwitz from may 11-15, 1994 which was organised by the Institute of Social and Economy History. The common interest was to face personally the former concentration camp. We went to Auschwitz, since it is the symbol of the genocide and stands as well for all other concentration camps.

The students were guided though the site by former camp inmates. They tried to tell what they had experienced, how life looked like in Auschwitz, but still, in many moments, the students had to recognize that they could not feel what it means to loose one's best friend on the gallows, near the Christmas tree.

Experiencing that deeply touching impressions, some students decided to go on working with the topic, to make Auschwitz a public theme. The idea of an exhibition was born.

Nobody could foresee how difficult it would be to work up that issue "50 years afterwards". Should the exhibition reflect the feelings and impressions or become an objective treatment by focussing on facts and data? Being in touch with diverse opinions - some finding the engagement necessary, others irrelevant for our times - made the problem of immediate interest. "You should rather deal with the violence in front of our own doors instead of digging into the past. Others were no better than Hitler - think of Mao or Stalin." This new repression, connected with the reference to the present problems and to the fact that Hitler had "only" killed six, but Stalin 20 million people, give right radical groups a new chance.

The dispute, how many people were killed in Auschwitz, the obscene question, whether the crematories were "technically able" to burn that many bodies, the question if Hitler himself ordered all that, the question, why the allied troops did not react earlier, though they had known about Auschwitz, leave the smell of rationalising the unbelievable. The revisionists don't sleep, on the contrary: A pseudo-science which tries to explain the "Auschwitz lie" scientifically, gains more and more supporters.

All those opinions encouraged the organizers to bring the incomprehensible closer to us.
It was tried to find a mixture between personal impressions and hard facts.

The exhibition now exists in electronic form...