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

Poland
Factors affecting the property in 2016*
  • Ground transport infrastructure
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Other Threats:

    Slow process of consultation with local communities.

Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Lack of Management Plan
  • Slow process of consultation with local communities
UNESCO Extra-Budgetary Funds until 2016

Total amount provided to the property: USD 10,000 from Israel

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2016
Requests approved: 2 (from 1998-2000)
Total amount approved : 30,000 USD
Missions to the property until 2016**

July 2001: joint Chairperson of the World Heritage Committee/World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission; December 2006: World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS site visit during the management seminar; May 2007: site management meeting; May 2008 and October 2013: Expert Consultation Group Meetings 

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2016

On 20 January 2016, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report, which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/31/documents. This is based on issues raised in an ICOMOS review submitted to the State Party in August 2015, in response to the State Party’s report of 3 March 2015 and on individual responses from each of the key stakeholders: the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, the Town of Oświęcim and Oświęcim Commune and the General Directorate for National Roads and Motorways.

In April 2015, the State Party submitted a Conservation strategy for the property to the World Heritage Centre. ICOMOS received this in April 2016 and will submit a review to the State Party.

Planned expressway S-1 and the south ring road of Oświęcim

This road project was initiated in 2011 to upgrade the transport infrastructure serving the property by linking a ring road of Oświęcim with the provincial road and then national roads to Cracow and Wadowice. Various routes for the expressway were put forward for evaluation. The State Party reports that in April 2015, a hybrid variant of the options for the expressway and the south ring road of Oświęcim were approved. A request for environmental approval was submitted in 2015 and is pending. It is stated that further research and analyses of the route of the ring road of Oświęcim in the area of the property will be carried out after the environmental decision has been obtained. This will include a Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA), in accordance with the 2011 ICOMOS Guidance on Heritage Impact Assessment for Cultural World Heritage Properties, that will cover a visual and spatial analysis of the impact of the proposed bridge over the river Soła.

Conservation

Work has started on the ‘comprehensive’ conservation of two brick prisoner barracks in the oldest part of the camp in order to strengthen their structure while preserving as much as possible of the frail historic fabric. All of the brick barracks will be renovated in subsequent years. Historical structures associated with the camp in the area of the Commune of Oświęcim, such as Judenrampe (railway) and the potato and cabbage warehouses, are systematically monitored and the area around them is maintained on a regular basis.

Management of visitors

An advance booking system has now been instituted for the 1.72 million visitors received annually, with good results. A new visitor centre near the Auschwitz Memorial in Oświęcim is planned near the warehouses, and funds are being sought.

A strategy for visitor traffic is also being planned to deliver better car access.This will include the construction of a road near the museum in Brzezinka and an access road to the Judenrampe and the potato and cabbage warehouses, linking Piwniczna and Kombatantów Streets in Brzezinka.

Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2016

The details provided by the State Party are welcomed. They cover issues that have been reported several times since 2011 and provide details of work undertaken or already planned.

The detailed Conservation Strategy is an important step forward in setting out approaches to the conservation of the property and its setting, in the documentation of the historical and memorial contexts of the property and in setting out management and development controls appropriate for different areas. It highlights the difficulties in the conservation of structures that are privately owned and the lack of legal instruments to allow grants to be awarded. It also highlights to the necessity of engaging with the local community on a substantial and sustainable basis and indicates the need to develop a separate programme to this end.

In setting out the key threats identified in 2008, the Conservation Strategy further highlights that these have become more intense. While the Conservation Strategy indicates buildings are in an extremely fragile state, as is the case with various memorial camps and their associated infrastructures such as railway sidings and warehouses, these need to be monitored to prevent them from falling into irreversible disrepair.

No further action is reported on resolving the conflicting boundaries of the buffer zone.

Requests have been made over the years for more information on the proposed road projects to be submitted with the necessary HIAs before any decisions are taken so that a better understanding can be achieved as to the delivery of necessary infrastructure in harmony with local development and while respecting the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property. It is to be noted that the HIAs have not yet been submitted.

With regard to the various transformations that are taking place in relation to the capacity of the property to accommodate nearly two million visitors each year,,it is important to ensure that all transformations (not only infrastructure) be undertaken in symbiosis with the surroundings and in line with the Conservation Guidelines.

These issues highlight the need for more coordinated management and a greater dialogue with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies on forward planning for major projects so that the Committee has a clearer understanding of the way the property is being protected and conserved to sustain its OUV. After several years of consultation, a Retrospective Statement of OUV (SOUV) is now in the process of being adopted by the Committee (see Document WHC/16/40.COM/8E) and this will be crucial for monitoring and management.

The great efforts being invested by the State Party, particularly through the work of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, are acknowledged. There does remain however concern that these efforts could be better coordinated and promoted through more open processes so that there is a clearer understanding as to how the property and its setting might move forward in an integrated way. Once the SOUV has been adopted by the Committee, this should provide an opportunity to align the management of the property and its setting with the OUV.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2016
40 COM 7B.55
Auschwitz Birkenau German Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp (1940-1945) (Poland) (C 31)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/16/40.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 33 COM 7B.115, adopted at its 33rd session (Seville, 2009),
  3. Acknowledges the details provided by the State Party on the ongoing projects including progress made in the management of visitors including with advanced booking systems, the express route and the start of a restoration initiative of the barracks in Auschwitz;
  4. Welcomes the development of the detailed Conservation Strategy and urges the State Party to ensure that its Guidelines are followed;
  5. Whilst understanding that the proposed expressway and south ring road of Oświęcim have been approved in principle, subject to environmental decisions, reiterates its request to the State Party to undertake as soon as possible a Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) of the overall project, and to submit this, together with details as to how this project relates to other proposed road schemes in Brzezinka and elsewhere, to the World Heritage Centre, for review by the Advisory Bodies, before irreversible commitments are made;
  6. Also welcomes the start of the restoration project of the two brick prisoner barracks and requests the State Party to submit further details on the restoration principles at use with documentation in order that good practice be established for further application in other parts of the property;
  7. In light of the various transformations that are taking place to accommodate the nearly two million visitors arriving at the property each year, also requests the State Party to provide more information on how the various projects and necessary infrastructure will be provided in symbiosis with the surroundings of the property, in line with the Conservation Guidelines, while respecting the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property;
  8. Also reiterates it request that HIAs are undertaken for all projects before any decisions are taken, in order to define clearly potential impacts on the attributes of OUV;
  9. Notes with satisfaction that the Retrospective Statement of OUV of the property has been finalized and submitted to the World Heritage Committee for adoption (Document WHC/16/40.COM/8E);
  10. Considers that there is a need for a governance system that brings together all the stakeholders at the property and for a clearer multi-disciplinary management approach that is based on OUV, and further welcomes the suggestion of a programme to facilitate more positive relationships with the local community;
  11. In order to undertake a dialogue with the State Party on how best these issues might be addressed, further requests the State Party to invite an ICOMOS Advisory mission to the property;
  12. Requests furthermore the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2017, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 42nd session in 2018.
40 COM 8E
Adoption of Retrospective Statements of Outstanding Universal Value

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/16/40.COM/8E.Rev,
  2. Congratulates the States Parties for the excellent work accomplished in the elaboration of retrospective Statements of Outstanding Universal Value for World Heritage properties located within their territories;
  3. Adopts the retrospective Statements of Outstanding Universal Value, as presented in the Annex of Document WHC/16/40.COM/8E.Rev, for the following World Heritage properties:

EUROPE AND NORTH AMERICA

  • Austria: Historic Centre of Vienna;
  • Canada - United States of America: Kluane / Wrangell-St Elias / Glacier Bay / Tatshenshini-Alsek;
  • Czech Republic: Gardens and Castle at Kroměříž; Historic Centre of Český Krumlov; Historic Centre of Prague; Historic Centre of Telč; Holašovice Historic Village; Holy Trinity Column in Olomouc; Jewish Quarter and St Procopius' Basilica in Třebíč; Kutná Hora: Historical Town Centre with the Church of St Barbara and the Cathedral of Our Lady at Sedlec; Lednice-Valtice Cultural Landscape; Pilgrimage Church of St John of Nepomuk at Zelená Hora; Tugendhat Villa in Brno;
  • Germany-United Kingdom: Frontiers of the Roman Empire;
  • Greece: Archaeological Site of Aigai (modern name Vergina); Archaeological Site of Delphi; Archaeological Site of Mystras; Medieval City of Rhodes; Monasteries of Daphni, Hosios Loukas and Nea Moni of Chios; Paleochristian and Byzantine Monuments of Thessalonika; Pythagoreion and Heraion of Samos; Temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae; The Historic Centre (Chorá) with the Monastery of Saint-John the Theologian and the Cave of the Apocalypse on the Island of Pátmos;
  • Italy: Archaeological Area and the Patriarchal Basilica of Aquileia; Cathedral, Torre Civica and Piazza Grande, Modena; Su Nuraxi di Barumini; The Trulli of Alberobello;
  • Netherlands: Defence Line of Amsterdam; Mill Network at Kinderdijk-Elshout;
  • Poland:Auschwitz Birkenau
    German Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp (1940-1945);
    Castle of the Teutonic Order in Malbork; Churches of Peace in Jawor and Świdnica; Historic Centre of Kraków; Kalwaria Zebrzydowska: the Mannerist Architectural and Park Landscape Complex and Pilgrimage Park; Medieval Town of Toruń; Old City of Zamość; Wooden Churches of Southern Małopolska;
  • Portugal: Central Zone of the Town of Angra do Heroismo in the Azores; Convent of Christ in Tomar; Historic Centre of Guimarães; Historic Centre of Oporto; Monastery of Batalha;
  • Spain: Alhambra, Generalife and Albayzín, Granada; Catalan Romanesque Churches of the Vall de Boí; Renaissance Monumental Ensembles of Úbeda and Baeza; Roman walls of Lugo; University and Historic Precinct of Alcalá de Henares;
  • Sweden: Agricultural Landscape of Southern Öland; Birka and Hovgården; Church Town of Gammelstad, Luleå; Grimeton Radio Station, Varberg; Laponian Area; Mining Area of the Great Copper Mountain in Falun; Naval Port of Karlskrona; Royal Domain of Drottningholm; Skogskyrkogården;
  • United States of America: La Fortaleza and San Juan National Historic Site in Puerto Rico;

LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN

  • Argentina / Brazil: Jesuit Missions of the Guaranis: San Ignacio Mini, Santa Ana, Nuestra Señora de Loreto and Santa Maria Mayor, Ruins of Sao Miguel das Missoes;
  • Brazil: Iguaçu National Park;
  • Costa Rica: Cocos Island National Park;
  • Ecuador: Sangay National Park;
  • Saint Lucia: Pitons Management Area;
  1. Decides that retrospective Statements of Outstanding Universal Value for World Heritage properties inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger will be reviewed in priority by the Advisory Bodies;
  2. Requests the States Parties to provide support to the World Heritage Centre for translation of the adopted Statements of Outstanding Universal Value into English or French respectively, and further requests the World Heritage Centre to upload the two language versions on its web site.
Draft Decision: 40 COM 7B.55

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/16/40.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 33 COM 7B.115, adopted at its 33rd session (Seville, 2009),
  3. Acknowledges the details provided by the State Party on the ongoing projects including progress made in the management of visitors including with advanced booking systems, the express route and the start of a restoration initiative of the barracks in Auschwitz;
  4. Welcomes the development of the detailed Conservation Strategy and urges the State Party to ensure that its Guidelines are followed;
  5. Whilst understanding that the proposed expressway and south ring road of Oświęcim have been approved in principle, subject to environmental decisions, reiterates its request to the State Party to undertake as soon as possible a Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) of the overall project, and to submit this, together with details as to how this project relates to other proposed road schemes in Brzezinka and elsewhere, to the World Heritage Centre, for review by the Advisory Bodies, before irreversible commitments are made;
  6. Also welcomes the start of the restoration project of the two brick prisoner barracks and requests the State Party to submit further details on the restoration principles at use with documentation in order that good practice be established for further application in other parts of the property;
  7. In light of the various transformations that are taking place to accommodate the nearly two million visitors arriving at the property each year, also requests the State Party to provide more information on how the various projects and necessary infrastructure will be provided in symbiosis with the surroundings of the property, in line with the Conservation Guidelines, while respecting the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property;
  8. Also reiterates it request that HIAs are undertaken for all projects before any decisions are taken, in order to define clearly potential impacts on the attributes of OUV;
  9. Notes with satisfaction that the Retrospective Statement of OUV of the property has been finalized and submitted to the World Heritage Committee for adoption (Document WHC/16/40.COM/8E);
  10. Considers that there is a need for a governance system that brings together all the stakeholders at the property and for a clearer multi-disciplinary management approach that is based on OUV, and further welcomes the suggestion of a programme to facilitate more positive relationships with the local community;
  11. In order to undertake a dialogue with the State Party on how best these issues might be addressed, further requests the State Party to invite a World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission to the property;
  12. Requests furthermore the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2017, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 42nd session in 2018.
Report year: 2016
Poland
Date of Inscription: 1979
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (vi)
Documents examined by the Committee
SOC Report by the State Party
Report (2016) .pdf
Report (2016) .pdf
arrow_circle_right 40COM (2016)
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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