Krakow and Auschwitz-Birkenau (Poland), 4-6 May 2005

Marek Edelmann et le Cardinal Jean-Marie LustigerThe seminar on “Teaching remembrance through cultural heritage” took place at the Jagiellonian University in Cracow from 4 to 6 May 2005, as part of the Polish chairmanship of the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers and the commemorations to mark the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz and Birkenau concentration camps. The seminar brought together Education Ministers from the 48 countries which have signed the European Cultural Convention, which this year celebrates its 50th anniversary.

The aim was to promote a different approach to Holocaust remembrance teaching, allowing young people to find out about various different aspects of cultural heritage.

The highlight of the event was the Day of Remembrance of the Holocaust victims, which took place on 5 May (Europe Day). The ministers visited the site of the concentration camps and took part in a 3.5km “March of the Living” between the Auschwitz and Birkenau camps, alongside more than 20 000 young people.

Each minister had been invited to include a young person in his or her official delegation. On the basis of their previous knowledge and their feelings and reactions after visiting the camps, the young people have designed a plastic sculpture together, measuring 10m by 1.5m, which they have presented to the ministers.

This ministerial seminar was extremely successful in terms of the participation of ministers and senior government officials. A number of charismatic figures also took part in the event, including Elie Wiesel, Cardinal Lustiger and Marek Edelmann. After the participants had recognised the importance of the subject and the difficulties which its proper teaching involved, several national proposals were made for establishing teacher training programmes.