The macabre debate on Auschwitz

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The gas chambers of Auschwitz are to be rescued from decay under a modernisation plan that has sparked controversy over how to preserve the infamous death camp. “We have to preserve rather than reconstruct,” Piotr Cywinski, the new head of the Auschwitz museum, said. “We must take this step if we want to be able to see these gas chambers in 20 years’ time.”

It is a macabre dilemma. Should one give new life to a Nazi camp that has become synonymous with evil? Or should one let the camp crumble gently? Should Auschwitz become an overgrown site for mourners or a tourist destination? The International Auschwitz Council meeting this week decided that it was possible to strike a balance. Auschwitz remains a museum as well as a crime scene and, as such, should be more accessible to those wanting to learn about the Holocaust.

“It is the oldest exhibition about the shoah [Holocaust] in the world,” Mr Cywinski said. “We really must change.” ...

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