1.         Auschwitz Birkenau
German Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp (1940-1945) (Poland) (C 31)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1979

Criteria  (vi)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger  N/A

Previous Committee Decisions  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/31/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1998-2000)
Total amount approved: USD 30,000
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/31/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

Total amount provided to the property: USD 20,000 by the State Party of Israel for an expert workshop (2004) on the preparation of a management plan for the Auschwitz Concentration Camp as well as the visit of a Polish expert to the Documentation Centre at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, Israel. USD 10,000 was returned by the authorities.

Previous monitoring missions

Reactive Monitoring mission by the Chairperson of the World Heritage Committee with the World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS from 1 to 2 July 2001; World Heritage Centre site visit during the management seminar in November 2006;

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

a) Lack of management plan;

b) Consultation with local communities.

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/31/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2007

Significant efforts by the State Party have been undertaken in the finalization of the Management Plan. From 30 November to 2 December 2006 an international consultation meeting on the Management Plan was organized by the authorities with the participation of the World Heritage Centre. The international experts produced a report which was transmitted to the Polish authorities for consideration. It was furthermore agreed that the management plan which, in accordance with the Decision 30 COM 7B.88, was supposed to reach the World Heritage Centre by 1 February 2007, could be submitted by 30 April 2007 at the latest, taking into account the recommendations of the International Expert Consultation.

The State Party submitted a report via letter dated 26 January 2007 on the state of conservation of the property. It noted that the Conservation Department of the State Museum Auschwitz Birkenau is in charge of more than 150 preserved structures and 300 ruins. Most structures have undergone conservation treatment and adaptation works for the Museum (for exhibitions etc.). A modern conservation workshop was opened in 2003. Concerning the protection zone of the site, the report refers to funding under the Governmental Strategic Programme for the Oswiecim Area which enabled some investments including improving visitor access.

The report also provided details on the process for the preparation of the Management Plan for the World Heritage property and its surroundings. This is coordinated by the Ministry for Culture and National Heritage and the State Museum, in close cooperation with representatives of the Ministries for Internal Affairs and Foreign Affairs and the Provincial and Municipal Administrations as well as the National Commission for UNESCO. The preparations for the Management Plan included summarising existing studies, in order to determine heritage protection priorities, identification of key management and development issues, identification of stakeholders, review of social and local community matters, threats to the tangible heritage, and potential conflict areas. Since 2006 recommendations from international experts have been incorporated into the work, in particular through the International Consultation meeting held from 30 November to 2 December 2006, as well as the visit of an international expert on management planning from 18 to 21 December 2006. The international experts in particular discussed issues of some local opposition to the management plan, the identification, prioritization and protection of sites outside the Museum, issues of the different zones (silence zone, buffer zone), questions on the significance, authenticity and integrity of the property, urgent conservation issues of buildings which could collapse as well as a number of new projects and potential threats (e.g. mount of remembrance, expressway) to the property.

Subsequently, it was reported that the Ministry for Culture and National Heritage had adopted an action plan which included:

a) Organizational and administrative schemes (supervision of the implementation of the management plan, conservation activities and strategic programme)

b) Education (educational programme on World Heritage; history of local communities and management plan)

c) Information on the 2nd phase of the Governmental Strategic programme of the Oswiecim Area in 2006

In addition, the report provides information on educational activities of the State Museum Auschwitz Birkenau including teaching objectives and methods, education on historical memory, historical awareness raising and civic responsibility building. Information on these can be found at

http://www.auschwitz.org.pl/new/index.php?language=EN&tryb=stale&id=613.

The Annex of the State Party report included only a synthesis of the issues included in the Management Plan for the World Heritage site Auschwitz Birkenau. On 11 May 2007 the World Heritage Centre received a hardcopy of the Draft Management Plan for the property with a letter from the Ministry of Culture dated 30 April 2007. A copy of the Plan was then transmitted to ICOMOS for review.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and ICCROM

N/A

Decision Adopted: 31 COM 7B.101

The World Heritage Committee,

1.       Having examined Document WHC-07/31.COM/7B.Add,

2.       Recalling Decision 30 COM 7B.88, adopted at its 30th session (Vilnius, 2006),

3.       Notes the progress made in the preparation of the Management Plan for the World Heritage property and in particular the international consultations undertaken in November and December 2006;

4.       Commends the State Party for the high level of historic documentation of the site and its landscape, prepared by the local experts, as a basis for the Management Plan, together with the conservation efforts of the Site Director;

5.       Expresses its concern for the lack of planning guidelines for the approved site and buffer zones, and the resulting deterioration of buildings associated with the Outstanding Universal Value of the site;

6.       Regrets the delay in the submission by the State Party of the Management Plan to the World Heritage Centre as requested both at its 29th and 30th sessions;

7.       Urges the State Party to take up its responsibilities at all levels of government and the local authorities to ensure the full implementation of the Management Plan;

8.       Requests the State Party to provide an updated statement of Outstanding Universal Value and site boundaries reflecting this statement;

9.       Also requests the State Party to provide the approved Management Plan and details of its implementation, including timeframe and responsibilities, to the World Heritage Centre by 1 February 2008 for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 32nd session in 2008.

Decision Adopted: 31 COM 8B.8

The World Heritage Committee,


1. Having examined Document WHC-07/31.COM/8B,
2. Recalling Decision 30 COM 8B.12,
3. Taking note of the renewed request for a name change for Auschwitz Concentration Camp (Poland) by the Polish authorities,
4. Welcoming the international consultation meeting which brought together eminent personalities and international experts on 12 March 2007 at UNESCO Headquarters,
5. Noting the results of the international consultation meeting and in particular the proposed statement of significance and the recommended name change,
6. Approves the following Statement of Significance for the property:

Auschwitz-Birkenau was the principal and most notorious of the six concentration and extermination camps established by Nazi Germany to implement its Final Solution policy which had as its aim the mass murder of the Jewish people in Europe. Built in Poland under Nazi German occupation initially as a concentration camp for Poles and later for Soviet prisoners of war, it soon became a prison for a number of other nationalities. Between the years 1942-1944 it became the main mass extermination camp where Jews were tortured and killed for their so-called racial origins. In addition to the mass murder of well over a million Jewish men, women and children, and tens of thousands of Polish victims, Auschwitz also served as a camp for the racial murder of thousands of Roma and Sinti and prisoners of several European nationalities.

The Nazi policy of spoliation, degradation and extermination of the Jews was rooted in a racist and anti-Semitic ideology propagated by the Third Reich.

Auschwitz-Birkenau was the largest of the concentration camp complexes created by the Nazi German regime and was the one which combined extermination with forced labour. At the centre of a huge landscape of human exploitation and suffering, the remains of the two camps of Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II-Birkenau, as well as its Protective Zone were placed on the World Heritage List as evidence of this inhumane, cruel and methodical effort to deny human dignity to groups considered inferior, leading to their systematic murder. The camps are a vivid testimony to the murderous nature of the anti-Semitic and racist Nazi policy that brought about the annihilation of more than 1.2 million people in the crematoria, 90% of whom were Jews.

The fortified walls, barbed wire, railway sidings, platforms, barracks, gallows, gas chambers and crematoria at Auschwitz-Birkenau show clearly how the Holocaust, as well as the Nazi German policy of mass murder and forced labour took place. The collections at the site preserve the evidence of those who were premeditatedly murdered, as well as presenting the systematic mechanism by which this was done. The personal items in the collections are testimony to the lives of the victims before they were brought to the extermination camps, as well as to the cynical use of their possessions and remains. The site and its landscape has high levels of authenticity and integrity since the original evidence has been carefully conserved without any unnecessary restoration.

Criterion (vi) - be directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas, or with beliefs, with artistic and literary works of outstanding universal value

Auschwitz - Birkenau, monument to the deliberate genocide of the Jews by the Nazi regime (Germany 1933-1945) and to the deaths of countless others bears irrefutable evidence to one of the greatest crimes ever perpetrated against humanity. It is also a monument to the strength of the human spirit which in appalling conditions of adversity resisted the efforts of the German Nazi regime to suppress freedom and free thought and to wipe out whole races. The site is a key place of memory for the whole of humankind for the holocaust, racist policies and barbarism; it is a place of our collective memory of this dark chapter in the history of humanity, of transmission to younger generations and a sign of warning of the many threats and tragic consequences of extreme ideologies and denial of human dignity.


7. Based on the Statement of Significance, further approves the name change to the following: Auschwitz Birkenau as title and German Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp (1940-1945) as subtitle;
8. Taking into account Decision 31 COM 7B.88, urges the State Party to ensure the implementation of the management plan for the property by authorities at all levels;
9. Appeals to all States Parties to send web-links of their educational and information material to the UNESCO World Heritage Centre in order to enhance understanding of its significance in the collective memory of humanity as a sign of warning of the many threats and consequences of extreme ideologies and the denial of human dignity.