Geografia i Sacrum, tom 1
Domański B., Skiba S. (red.), 2005, Geografia i Sacrum, tom 1, IGiGP UJ, Kraków.
Recenzje: prof. dr hab. Alicja Zemanek
Język publikacji: polski
Cena egzemparza: 21.00 PLN (w tym 5% VAT).
Strona tytułowa, spis treści
Charakterystyka dorobku naukowego, organizacyjnego i dydaktycznego prof. dr. hab. Antoniego Jackowskiego
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Spatial constraints of commemoration the: case of Oświęcim and the state museum Auschwitz-Birkenau
Summary: Oświęcim is a town whose identity and image has been shaped by a tension between two poles in its geographical space: the State Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau, commemorating the Nazi extermination complex (in the western part of the town) and the chemical plant Firma Chemiczna Dwory but formerly Zakłady Chemiczne Oświęcim in Communist times (in the eastern part). Situated between these two are the historic part of the town, enjoying municipal rights since 1272, and its post-war successor, what was intended as the chemical plant's socialist town. Both the museum and the chemical plant were products of the German occupation of Poland during World War II. The chemical plant was built during that time by I.G. Farben. Both have shaped the space of the town, its economy, as well as the people's lives and attitudes, although not in equal measure. Between 1945 and 1989, Oświęcim became a classical example of a town shaped by a single paternalistic plant, which created and maintained a major part of the town's infrastructure including its hospital, schools, as well as a swimming pool and an ice rink, the latter two of national importance in their associated sports. Yet on the other side of the town there was an institution , the Museum, that in terms of Holocaust remembrance was of national and international importance but which had for a good deal of the time little or nothing to do with the everyday experiences of the people of Oświęcim. This situation changed dramatically during the transformation to post-socialism. The chemical plant was restructured, its employment was reduced several times and it systematically withdrew form activities not directly connected with production. On the other hand, the Museum no longer constrained by party dogma and now open to outside scrutiny appeared to want to mark its presence in the town. Moreover events in around the Museum began to attract the attention of the global media highlighting the former's new interest in the town. The purpose of this paper is to outline the Museum's desire to establish commemoration barriers around its sites and to show what consequences on the spatial development of Oświęcim as a town this is having. Special attention has been paid to the problem of regulating the spatial limits of commemoration, introduced by way of sanctioning the protection zone around the former concentration camps Auschwitz and Birkenau. David Smith has argued that "all geographies are in some sense moral creations" (2000, p.22) which reflect (and construct) judgements about what actions and events are right for particular places. The imposition of order, value and meaning on landscapes necessarily involves the practice of norms and ideologies, filled with moral content about what is right and wrong. Cresswell (1996) has noted that geographies are constituted from a series of 'acts of boundary making', or territorialization which prioritise the claims of one group and, often, activity over others. These acts of boundary making represent the result of contested moral claims to geographical space (Smith, 2000) which themselves reflect a judgement about who should be doing what where. Acts, events and people which are not condoned (or permitted) within given territories are seen to be 'out of place' (Cresswell, 1996). Such judgements, Cresswell argues, are often based on theorising which takes the issue out of context, which is a case of Oświęcim. In early 1999, the Polish government under pressure from the international Jewish community, unveiled plans to establish no-development zones that would be up to 100metres wide around the two main sites (Auschwitz I and Birkenau). The government's proposals were met with outcries in Oświęcim and hundreds of people gathered to protest against the zones. The protestors argued that the zones would discourage investors and job creation and would force hundreds of families from their homes. The planned exclusion zones would not only lead to the closure of businesses already operating around the Museum in the former camp industrial zone would have precluded any further development near the Museum sites. The proposals led to deeper fears that the Museum would be re-shaped to incorporate much more of the camp territories and to link its distant parts. The impact of this on the town's economy would be immense. Although this zone was seen by town officials as a best mean of regulation of land use around former camps it was seen by inhabitants as a danger. People saw the closing off of opportunities at a time when the chief employer in the town the chemical plant had both been downsizing and withdrawing investment from other sectors of the town. On the other hand international Jewish community also protested against this zone as being to narrow, referring to 500 meters UNESCO zone and to the need of creation corridor to link both former camps in one protection site. This caused even more outcry and anger in Oświęcim, especially that these opinions were better heard in Warsaw than those formulated in Oświęcim. One local leader who had organised the community against these plans easily won elections and become town president in 2002. Too often in this series of contestations over boundaries it would appear that the moral landscape of the town is being watched over by institutions and organisations from outside Poland that believe they know what is best for the town. As long as this is the case then the terrain around the Museum and land use within the town will be open to claim and counter claim about activities being out of place. To the local business community this is the worst of all possible worlds because it not only blights economic activity around the museum but more importantly it gives the town a bad press as a place of disputation and uncertain futures. Unfortunately for the town of Oświęcim , Auschwitz has become a symbol rather than a place and a symbol that has different meanings for different groups. To date whatever compromise has been tried seems to surrender the moral high ground to the claims of others. To those who wanted to look to the future that seemed to lock the town into a past that was increasingly being claimed as someone else's. In such difficult moral terrain it will take more to reconcile the various claims for territory than the declaration that Oświęcim is a town of peace and freedom, another attempt to move the town onto its future while still respecting its past, albeit one endorsed by the town council.
Domański B., Skiba S. (red.), 2005, Geografia i Sacrum, tom 1, IGiGP UJ, Kraków, s. 123-134.
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