Following a mission by the Director of the World Heritage Centre to Poland, the Government of Poland submitted a substantive progress report on the actions taken for the management and preservation of this World Heritage site. This report addressed the following issues:
- The Strategic Government Programme for Auschwitz, in operation since the beginning of 1997 will be extended until the year 2007. It provides for the creation of a communication infrastructure and the functional restructuring of the areas around the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum. Funding has been provided under this programme for the restoration of the railway and facades and, for next year, the creation of an International Education Centre in the former Philip Morris tobacco factory. A new Plenipotentiary of the Government for the Strategic Government Programme has been appointed at the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Administration.
- The international group of experts that met in June 1998 has now been formally established as an Advisory Body to the Plenipotentiary. This body met again in March 1999.
- The Act for the Protection of the former Nazi Extermination Camps was signed by the President of the Republic on 10 May and became law on 25 May 1999. This act foresees strict control by the regional representative of the National Government of a zone of 100 meters around the Camps. In the case of Auschwitz/Birkenau, this is a zone within the wider protection zone around the World Heritage site. On the basis of this act, the crosses surrounding so-called ‘Papal Cross’ were removed to another location on 28 May 1999.
- Planing documents for Oswiecim and Brzezinka (the towns and municipalities where the camps are located) will be developed in such a way that they respond to both the interests and aspirations of the local communities and to the need to maintain and increase the solemnity of the site.
Considering that major progress had been made in consensus building, planning and concrete actions for the preservation of the site, the Bureau commended the Government of Poland for the decisive actions it had taken to implement the Strategic Governmental Programme for Auschwitz, to implement the Act for the Protection of Former Nazi Extermination Camps and to initiate integrated planning for the surroundings of the Camps of Auschwitz/Birkenau. It requested the Government of Poland to submit a further progress report by 15 April 2000 for examination by the Bureau at its twenty-fourth session. It requested that this report include detailed maps of the camps and their surroundings with a clear indication of the different protection zones and the management mechanisms that apply to them.
On behalf of his Government, the Observer of Poland thanked the members of the Committee, particularly the Delegation of the United States of America, for the interest in the preservation of this site. He also thanked the Director of the World Heritage Centre for his mission to Poland and for his fruitful discussions and advice. He expressed his commitment, in his capacity as Chairperson of the international group of experts, to present by the time of the next reporting, a master plan for the site.