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Eric Clapton to play Oświęcim (Auschwitz) Life Festival

Legendary British guitarist Eric Clapton will headline the fifth edition of a festival promoting peace and tolerance near the former Nazi German death camp of Auschwitz.

Eric CLAPTON

This June, Clapton will follow in the footsteps of artists such as Sting and Peter Gabriel, who have both performed at the event in previous years.

Launched in 2010 by radio journalist Darek Maciborek, the festival was designed to “break the spell” that surrounded the founders home town of Oswiecim, which was renamed Auschwitz during the Nazi occupation.

The network of death camps created in the vicinity of Oswiecim witnessed the deaths of over 1 million inmates, 90 percent of whom were Jewish. Other victims included Poles, Russians and members of Europes Roma community.

The 5th Oswiecim Life Festival runs from 25-28 June, and Cream and Yardbirds veteran Eric Clapton will play the MOSiR sports stadium in Oswiecim on 28 June.Other acts due to play include US outfit Soundgarden and eclectic New York combo Balkan Beat Box.

January 8, 2014 Posted by | Auschwitz, Events, News, Recommendations | , , , , | Leave a comment

Sting to star in this years ‘Festival of Life’ in Oswiecim

Sting in Poland

KRAKOW TOURS: Today it has been announced that Sting will headline the ‘Festival of Life’ concerts at Oswiecim this year.

TICKETS AVAILABLE HERE

Sting will perform his ‘Back to Bass’ tour on June 29th, the final day of the 3 day music festival. Having seen the tour in Lodz in 2012 I can definitely recommend you try to see it.

He will be accompanied by: his longtime guitarist Dominic Miller, drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, keyboardist David Sancious, violinist Peter Tickell and singer Jo Lawry.

In 2012 Peter Gabriel gave a fantastic performance headlining the show, I’m sure Sting will be even better,

LINKED POST

Sting in Lodz 2012

January 22, 2013 Posted by | News | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Oswiecim (Auschwitz) to separate from its’ twin.

KRAKOW TOURS – The mayor of Ballan-Mire, central France, has announced that he does not want to renew a twinning agreement with the southern Polish town of Oswiecim, citing concerns that the local authorities there are distancing themselves from the former Nazi concentration camp situated there.

According to reports from Agence France Presse (AFP), Laurent Baumel, the socialist mayor of Ballan-Mire, near Tours, has criticised the twinning agreement, signed in 2002 by his predecessor, by stating that the contract does not refer in any way to the Nazis’ activity at the site of Auschwitz, where an estimated 3 million people died during World War II.

“There is no talk of the Holocaust, Shoah or the camp,” Baumel told AFP, underlining that the twinning agreement is “a typical ‘twinning’ between a French and Polish town geared towards cultural and touristic exchange.”

According to Mayor Baumel, since 2008 Oswiecim authorities want to forget about the Nazi concentration camp as part of the twinning agreement. “The Polish local authorities are standing by the separation of the town from the death camp, in effect leading to the trivialisation of the town itself,” Baumel stated.

“In fact, their approach is based as if they were to say ‘stop identifying our quaint town with a death camp; Oswiecim is not Auschwitz’,” Baumel complains.

“By no means do I want to support a strategy based on separating the name of Auschwitz from everything it means in common history,” the mayor has said, with reports in La Nouvelle Republique (FR) that Baumel has already taken the decision not to renew the agreement.

Meanwhile, head of Oswiecim’s town council, Piotr Kucka is surprised by the French mayor’s decision.

“We have always repeatedly stated that it is not allowed to link the town with the camp. After all, that is also the policy of the Polish state as a whole,” Kucka told the Polish Press Agency (PAP).

“As soon as there is talk of an ‘Oswiecim camp’ instead of ‘Auschwitz’, a line is crossed as to the falsification of ‘Polish concentration camps’,” Kucka maintains.

Oswiecim is a town over 800 years old, reminds Piotr Kucka, yet Auschwitz was the result of a five-year period of Nazi occupation, when most Polish and Jewish residents were resettled to make way for a model German town.

Originally, Auschwitz camp was used for the interment of Poles. Town councillor Piotr Kucka told PAP that current residents of Oswiecim make sure that visiting Germans refer to the town in its proper Polish form, and the German name.

Co-operation between Ballan-Mire and Oswiecim has been ongoing for around ten years, starting with youth exchanges, and ultimately leading to a Polish-French Friendship Association based in the southern Polish town.

The mayor of Ballan-Mire last visited Oswiecim in the Spring of this year. His opposite number is Oswiecim, Janusz Marszalek, has not been informed of the decision.

LINKED STORY.  Oswiecim…Under the shadow of Auschwitz

November 11, 2010 Posted by | Krakow Travel Advice, News, Tour Information | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Auschwitz Theft – Canadians let off

KRAKOW TOURS – An appeal by the Auschwitz museum against the dropping of charges against two Canadian teachers, who were caught red-handed in June while trying to steal “mementoes” from German Nazi death camp, will be heard this week.

Even though the two men were caught red-handed, the Prosecutor’s Office in Oswiecim dropped the case, claiming that it was petty theft, which did not affect the national heritage of Poland.

“The museum’s guards found two metal railway pins wrapped in paper in the men’s rucksacks. The pins are a part of the historic train track, where camp prisoners were selected and some directed to gas chambers,” says Piotr Cywinski, head of the Auschwitz-Birkenau National Museum.

“I was shocked when I read [the case had been dismissed]. Does that mean that each of over one million visitors who annually come to Auschwitz can take a souvenir from the camp with them? A brick from a crematorium or a piece of a barbed wire? The Prosecutor’s Office and police are permitting the looting of the camp,” complains Cywinski.

Auschwitz-Birkenau is on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and the entire 200-ha area is regarded as a mass grave site.

“If police and the Prosecutor’s Office prosecuted the Auschwitz gate sign thieves, why don’t they charge these Canadian teachers, who admitted they intended to commit a theft?” asks Cywinski.

Prosecutors say the two crimes are not comparable, however. “There’s a difference between masterminding the “Arbeit Macht Frei” sign theft and picking up two pieces of metal from the ground,” Mariusz Slomka from the Prosecutor’s Office in Oswiecim told the Dziennik Polski.

On 19 August, the Court in Oswiecim will consider an appeal against the discontinuation of the case, filed by the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum.

Visit Auschwitz with KRAKOWTOURS.CO.UK the only UK tour company operating in Krakow

August 17, 2010 Posted by | News, Tour Information | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Oswiecim, under the shadow of Auschwitz

KRAKOW TOURS – The small Polish town of Oswiecim (Auschwitz in German) has long felt that it suffered from association with the horror of the nearby Nazi death camp, but some residents hope the town can begin to be seen in a more positive light.

“You want a map of the town, not just the museum?”

The tourist information officer looked sceptical at first, then delighted. She rummaged in a drawer – clearly one she did not open that often – and pulled out a brochure.

There were, she ruefully admitted, very few visitors to this place interested in anything beyond the Auschwitz museum.

After I had made my own visit, I headed away from the crowds into the elegant old town centre. A modest cafe or two were open, old men sat in the tree-lined square feeding the birds, shoppers ambled around in a scene you would find in any small Polish town.

No signs in any foreign language, nowhere selling souvenirs.

While more than a million people arrive up the road at the museum every year, in the town centre there is no hint of it being a tourist destination.

Resentment

And this bizarre divide has caused considerable tension.

Although the museum provides some jobs for locals, others complain about costs incurred in providing, say, parking space for visitors who bring the town little in return.

There have been rows when planning permission for the museum’s expansion has been rejected by local authorities.

And resentment goes deeper than that.

Some people feel tainted by the terrible history looming over this place.

It is hard growing up somewhere the rest of the world sees as the symbol of evil.

Some visitors to Auschwitz make a point of shunning the town, not wishing to linger. They cannot understand, they say, how anyone could still live here.

Jewish past

The reaction from many local people has been to turn their backs on history.

All this was encouraged by Polish Communist rule, keen to suppress Jewish history in particular.

Oswiecim’s former synagogue was used in Communist times as a carpet warehouse, until a British academic, Jonathan Webber, discovered it in the 1980s.

As Judaism was then so taboo, he recalls, he had to pretend he was looking for an Armenian church.

He paid the warehouse workers a few dollars to carry away the stacks of carpets and reveal Hebrew inscriptions on the walls.

That former synagogue is now a Jewish centre.

On the staff is Artur Szyndler, who grew up in Oswiecim under Communism.

He told me that all the time he was at school, a mile or two from the Auschwitz site, he never once heard the word Holocaust.

But after the end of Communist rule, he studied Jewish history at university, as a growing number of young Poles now do.

Pointing to old maps on the walls of the centre, he explained how Oswiecim had had a Jewish majority before the war.

With its location at a well-connected meeting point of countries and peoples, it was known as a place of unusually good relations between faiths, and for tolerance of refugees.

But that location became a curse during Nazi rule, and Oswiecim was chosen as the final destination and place of murder for over a million Jews and many others too, who were deported from all over Europe.

Reconciliation

Oswiecim’s own Jewish residents were among the victims.

There are no Jews living here today, but the centre in the former synagogue has regular visits from Holocaust survivors who were born in the town.

It wants to draw visitors from the Auschwitz concentration camp site into Oswiecim to explore the history of the rich society the Nazis destroyed.

And the Jewish centre is just one of several places in the town exploring the nature of genocide, and the possibility of reconciliation.

At the Centre for Dialogue and Prayer, I came across a man who plays a remarkable symbolic role as the only German living in Oswiecim today.

Manfred Deselaers is a Catholic priest with a ready smile but a deeply serious mission.

After German reunification in 1990 and much talk of Germany moving on from its past, he decided to settle permanently here.

He immersed himself first in its darkest history, studying the claims made by the commandant of Auschwitz, Rudolf Hoess, that he was a Christian believer.

Today Father Deselaers runs courses bringing former Auschwitz prisoners – Catholic and Jewish – together with young Poles and Germans.

Sometimes even the descendants of Germans who worked at the death camp are there.

Given this kind of encounter, he tells me, Oswiecim-Auschwitz can be a place with a “remarkable positive power, which is strange but it’s here”.

“It’s important that people are not simply overwhelmed, but see something good,” he says. “That Hitler does not have the last word about this place”.

It will never be straightforward for Oswiecim to emerge from the shadow of Auschwitz.

The reconciliation work is a start, drawing on memories of the town’s brighter history before the Nazis arrived.

It is seen as offering a kind of map – like the map I found buried in the tourist information office – showing a way towards a more positive future for a town still trapped in the most terrible of pasts.

Chris Bowlby for BBC News

August 1, 2010 Posted by | Krakow Travel Advice, News, Tour Information | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

   

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