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Auschwitz Birkenau
German Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp (1940-1945)

Poland
Factors affecting the property in 1999*
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Other Threats:

    Issue of the transfer of seven original paintings from the Auschwitz-Birkenau state museum to Mrs. Dina Babbitt, author of the paintings in 1944.

Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports

Threat to the integrity of the property (tobacco factory project) (issue resolved)

International Assistance: requests for the property until 1999
Requests approved: 1 (from 1998-1998)
Total amount approved : 20,000 USD
Missions to the property until 1999**
Information presented to the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee in 1999

Summary of previous deliberations: On 5 March 1997 a Declaration Concerning Principles for Implementation of Program Oswiecimski was initiated by the Polish Government Plenipotentiary for the Government Strategic Plan for Oswiecim, the United States Holocaust Memorial Council, the International Council of the State Museum of Auschwitz-Birkenau and the Mayor of Oswiecim in the presence of the President of Poland. Progress on the implementation of the Declaration was made particularly through an expert meeting that was held on 2 and 3 June 1998 on the spatial management of the area around the two Concentration Camps, the presentation of a progress report in autumn 1998 and through the expert meeting which took place on 11 and 12 March 1999 in Poland. The World Heritage Committee at its twenty-second session held in Kyoto, 30 November – 5 December 1998, requested the Polish authorities to submit a progress report by 15 April 1999 (deadline extended to 1 June 1999) for examination by the twenty-third session of the World Heritage Bureau. The Committee confirmed its support for the principles laid out in the Declaration of March 1997 and also its support that this process continues in a consensual manner among all parties involved. It expressed the belief that no steps should be made unless consensus is reached.

New information: The Government of Poland will submit a progress report by I June 1999.

Action Required

The Bureau may wish to examine information that will be provided/ may be available at the time of its session and take the appropriate decision thereupon.

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 1999

Previous deliberations:

Twenty-second session of the Committee, Chapter VII.38

Twenty-third session of the Bureau, Chapter IV.75

 

Major progress had been made in the implementation of the Strategic Governmental Programme for Auschwitz and of the Act for the Protection of Former Nazi Extermination Camps. The Bureau of the World Heritage Committee at its twenty-third session (5-10 July 1999) 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.

 

New information: The Polish National Commission for UNESCO by letter dated 18 August 1999, requested the views of the World Heritage Committee on the following matter:

In 1944, a Jewish prisoner of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp, the 21-year old Ms Dinah Gottlieb from Brno, Czech Republic, painted portraits of Gypsies in the camp. Thanks to her artistic skills she managed together with her mother to survive the camp. During the liberation of the camp in January 1945 several water colour paintings were given from a prisoner to habitants nearby the camp. Seven paintings were sold in 1963 and 1977 to the State Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau at Oswiecim. In 1969 the Museum identified Ms Dinah Gottlieb-Babbitt, now living in the United States, as author of the paintings. In 1973 on the occasion of a visit to the museum, Ms Gottlieb asked for photos of the portraits that were sent to her.

In 1997 Ms Gottlieb asked the State Museum to return the seven portraits. In its resolution H. CON. RES. 162 dated 22 July 1999 the House of the Representatives of the United States urged inter alia "the officials of the Auschwitz-Birkenau state museum to transfer the seven original paintings to Dina Babbitt as expeditiously as possible."

The State Museum of Auschwitz-Birkenau – while fully recognising Ms Gottliebs personal attitude to the works she made in the past under horrendous conditions – is convinced the paintings should remain in the museum's collection. The museum believes that the loss of every object that certifies about the crimes committed by the Nazis will be an irreparable loss for the memory of human kind. Furthermore, as this site forms part of the World Heritage the museum is convinced that objects and documents found in the area of the liberated camp should be protected for further generations.

Similar views were expressed by the International Council of Remembrance of Extermination of the Romes, Poland.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 1999
23 BUR IV.B.75
Auschwitz Concentration Camp (Poland)

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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. 

23 COM X.B.46
State of conservation reports of cultural properties noted by the Committee

X.46 The Committee noted the decisions of the twenty-third extraordinary session of the Bureau as reflected in the Report of the Bureau session (Working Document WHC-99/CONF.209/6) and included in Annex VIII of this report on the following properties:

Jesuit Missions of the Guaranis (Argentina and Brazil)

The Jesuit Mission of Santa Ana (Argentina)

The Potala Palace, Lhasa (China)

City of Quito (Ecuador)

The Delegate of Ecuador informed the Committee that the volcano Pichincha had erupted on 5 October and November 26 1999 and that the National Institute for Cultural Heritage (INPC) and the Municipality of Quito had taken preventive measures to protect the population and the monuments.

Historic Centre of Tallin (Estonia)

Mont-Saint-Michel and its Bay (France)

Roman Monuments, Cathedral and Liebfrauen Church in Trier (Germany)

Ashanti Traditional Buildings (Ghana)

Churches and Convents of Goa (India)

Luang Prabang (Laos)

Island of Mozambique (Mozambique)

Lumbini, the Birthplace of the Lord Buddha (Nepal)

The Observer of HMG of Nepal assured the Committee that the conservation of the Maya Devi Temple would be undertaken following international conservation norms prescribed by the World Heritage Convention. He informed the Committee that HMG of Nepal would be grateful to receive expert suggestions from UNESCO concerning the draft conceptual design for the Maya Devi Temple conservation work, as such advice would be a guideline for elaborating the details of the design under preparation. The Observer assured the Committee that the designs for the works at Maya Devi Temple, once completed, would be transmitted to UNESCO, as assured by HMG of Nepal. The Observer informed the Committee that a technical cooperation request for the organization of an international technical meeting to discuss the proposed project for the conservation, restoration, and presentation of the Maya Devi Temple, would be submitted, following the request of the Bureau at its twenty-third session.

Archaeological Site of Chavin (Peru)

City of Cuzco (Peru)

Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras (Philippines)

The Observer of the Philippines assured the Committee that the long-term integrated development plan of the site, including a tourism development plan for the site, would be submitted in due course to UNESCO, preferably before 15 September 2000. To ensure that the authenticity and sustainable conservation of this fragile site is maintained, the Observer stated that his Government would avail of the generous offer of the Committee to provide technical expertise under the World Heritage Fund.

Auschwitz Concentration Camp (Poland)

The Sokkuram Grotto and Pulguksa Temple (Republic of Korea)

Alhambra, Generalife and Albaycin, Grenada (Spain)

Historic Areas of Istanbul (Turkey)

The Observer of Turkey thanked the Bureau for the sympathies expressed for the victims of the earthquake this year. The Observer stated that Istanbul is the only one among the nine World Heritage sites in Turkey located in the region impacted by the August 1999 earthquake. While the damage can only be measured over time, initial assessment has noted minor cracks in several historic monuments including the Hagia Sophia, and four museums. Severe cracks have, however, been noted in the Istanbul Archaeological Museum, the conservation laboratory which is housed in an historic monument, in two historic library buildings, and in more than ten tombs as well as in the city walls (ramparts). The Committee was informed that the impact report of the second earthquake (in November 1999) on World Heritage sites had not been received by the Ministry of Culture of Turkey from its regional offices. The Observer said that a detailed report would be submitted to the Committee through the Secretariat as soon as it is completed.

With regard to the urban conservation plan of the historic peninsula of Istanbul, the Observer informed the Committee that the 1/5000 scale plan has just been completed and submitted to the Greater Istanbul Council and upon approval, will be transmitted to the Regional Conservation Council for clearance. As soon as this is officially approved, the 1/1000 scale plan will be prepared for the Fatih and Eminonu municipalities. In addition, the 1/500 scale detailed conservation plan for the Zeyrek district prepared by Istanbul Technical University, which was co-funded by the World Heritage Fund is about to be completed, and will be submitted to the Fatih Municipality for approval. The Observer thanked the UNESCO World Heritage Centre for having mobilized international support for the conservation of Istanbul's urban heritage, and in this regard, expressed particular appreciation for the financial support extended by the European Commission and the Government of France.

The Observer concluded her intervention by saying that due to the need to finance earthquake rehabilitation activities, the budget of all government services had been severely cut, including that of the Ministry of Culture. While on-going joint conservation projects with the municipalities of Istanbul will be continued, no expansion in the area of work or additional activities will be possible for 2000.

The Delegate of Greece called upon the Committee to provide support to Turkey in the rehabilitation of the earthquake damage. In this regard, she recalled her statement at the twenty-third extraordinary session of the Bureau, which pointed to the need to prioritize the object of international support in view of the vast conservation needs of the Istanbul World Heritage area. The Chairperson, in his personal capacity stated that this spirit of collaboration and solidarity expressed by Greece in favour of Turkey was a demonstration of the spirit of the World Heritage Convention.

The Bureau may wish to examine this matter at its session.

Report year: 1999
Poland
Date of Inscription: 1979
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (vi)
Exports

* : The threats indicated are listed in alphabetical order; their order does not constitute a classification according to the importance of their impact on the property.
Furthermore, they are presented irrespective of the type of threat faced by the property, i.e. with specific and proven imminent danger (“ascertained danger”) or with threats which could have deleterious effects on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (“potential danger”).

** : All mission reports are not always available electronically.


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