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

Factors affecting the property in 2003*
  • Impacts of tourism / visitor / recreation
  • Interpretative and visitation facilities
  • Management systems/ management plan
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Threat to the integrity of the property (tobacco factory project) (issue resolved)
  • Issue of the transfer of seven original paintings from the Auschwitz-Birkenau state museum (issue resolved)
  • Lack of Planning and management of the surroundings of the Camps (e.g. opening of a discotheque outisde the site) 
International Assistance: requests for the property until 2003
Requests approved: 2 (from 1998-2000)
Total amount approved : 30,000 USD
Missions to the property until 2003**

July 2001 : mission of the Chairperson of the World Heritage Committee

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2003


By letter of 25 August 2002, the National Commission of Poland informed the Centre that the completion of a management plan for the deadline of 1 February 2003, as requested by the Committee, would not be feasible. Taking into account the complexity of the site and the local situation (50 000 inhabitants) a long-term strategy had been developed to harmonise conservation with the needs of the contemporary city. The Strategic Programme foresees the creation of an International Centre for Education on the Holocaust as well as awareness-raising activities to improve the understanding of the local population to this subject.

As requested by the Committee, a report was submitted on 27 January 2003, which describes the implementation of the 2nd phase of the Strategic Programme for the Oświęcim Area (OSPR) for the years 2002 - 2006. The report identifies four priority areas and gives detailed information on the tasks to be fulfilled within these areas: The main objective of the Programme comprises:

1.Bringing order and development to the areas around the State Museum Auschwits-Birkenau: The second phase of the Strategy Programme will continue to revalorise the site of the former extermination camp and to mark places of historical significance that are situated in the proximity of the Museum area. It also aims to enable access to these sites of interests outside the Museum.

2.Transport accessibility of Oświęcim pilgrims and tourists, commuters and investors: During the years 1997-2001, the internal transport infrastructure has already considerably improved and the second phase will further ameliorate the safety and quality of the roads, and the access to the sites.

3.Conducting in Oświęcim educational activities related to the commemoration sites and the issue of human rights, international relations and peace: The establishment of an International Educational Centre and an educational programme is planned which will make Oświęcim a place for education, information, remembrance and research on the Holocaust and human rights, as well as a place of Polish and international peace initiatives and dialogue among different cultures and religions.

4. Increasing the attractiveness of Oświęcim and its surroundings for tourists: In order to make Oświęcim a more attractive place for all to understand the complex problems associated with Auschwitz, the plan includes renovating the 13th century buildings and improving visitor access to the buildings in the Old Town. The Israeli authorities have offered assistance for the preparation of the Management Plan.

Following a meeting between the Centre and the Secretary-General of the Polish National Commission to UNESCO, a letter with updated information concerning Auschwitz Concentration Camp was received on 29 April 2003. The Polish authorities underlined the importance of the 5-year Strategic Programme and informed the Centre that on 18 December 2002 an agreement was signed between the relevant authorities that are going to be in charge of the implementation of the Programme. This agreement is a starting point for creating a management system for the site.

Furthermore, an international conference is being organized in Krakow on 16 - 17 June 2003 to launch the International Education Centre, to which the UNESCO Assistance Director-General for Education and international experts, who have been active in the site preservation, are invited. Another Conference entitled “Preservation for the Future”, dedicated to the technical aspects of the site preservation, will be held in the State Museum of Auschwitz-Birkenau from 23 to 25 June 2003 under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture.

The Polish Government wished to call attention to the fact that the site was inscribed under criterion (vi) alone, underlining the complexity of the site to which many emotions are linked. They noted that there is no equivalent site on the World Heritage List. Therefore, the Government invited the World Heritage Committee to consider this specific situation requiring a different approach to the preservation of the site.


ICOMOS believes that the Polish Government should be congratulated for this comprehensive document and hopes that it will all be implemented. Nevertheless, it considers that:

1. It is impossible to understand many of the "tasks" indicated in the document without a larger colour map and with a legend.

2. The main problem in the past was the lack of a management plan and the issue of the buffer zone, its boundaries and land uses. The International Group of Experts, as well as the World Heritage Centre, requested a definition of the boundary of the buffer zone and the activities allowed in it. The "protection area" mentioned in the document is smaller than the buffer zone in the original nomination documents - it was one of the sources of problems and concerns in the past. There is a need for a good map showing the nomination boundaries, the original buffer zone and the so called "protection area".

3. Another plan, which is needed to understand future possible situation, is the one of allowed land uses around the camps.

4. A traffic plan, which shows clearly the parking areas, directions of traffic, possible restrictions, pedestrian traffic, new roads and bridges.

5. All the "tasks" in the programme could become worthless if, in the areas between the camps and in buildings associated with the past of the sites, there would be a type of activity, which would compromise the values. 

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2003
27 COM 7B.71
Auschwitz Concentration Camp (Poland)

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Expresses its appreciation to the State Party for its efforts in prolonging the Strategic Programme for the Oświęcim Area;

2. Notes the additional information provided by the Polish authorities on the Programme and other activities at the property;

3. Urges the national and local authorities to prepare the management plan in collaboration with UNESCO and ICOMOS;

4. Acknowledges with appreciation the financial support provided by the State Party of Israel;

5. Requests an updated report to be provided by the State Party of Poland to the World Heritage Centre by 1 February 2004 in order that the World Heritage Committee can examine the state of conservation of the property at its 28th session in 2004.

Draft Decision: 27 COM 7 (b) 71

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Thanks the Polish authorities for their efforts in prolonging the Strategic Programme for the Oświęcim Area,

2. Notes the additional information provided by the Polish authorities on the Programme and other activities at the site,

3. Urges the national and local authorities to prepare the management plan in collaboration with UNESCO and ICOMOS,

4. Acknowledges with gratitude the financial support provided by the State Party of Israel,

5. Requests an updated report to be provided by the State Party of Poland by 1 February 2004, for examination by the 28th session of the World Heritage Committee. 

Report year: 2003
Date of Inscription: 1979
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (vi)
Documents examined by the Committee
arrow_circle_right 27COM (2003)

* : 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.