Czarnik SRC

Andrzej Czarnik moves for Auschwitz Museum

This story appeared in Sunday, the 9 June, 2002's, The Boston Globe.  Thanks to our great friend, Bill Hall, for bringing it to our attention.  We will have it in several forms here, to ensure it's preservation.

Andrzej Czarnik, Oswiecim (Auschwitz) Poland

bulletLink to article it's online form.
bulletThe following story appeared in The Globe Online:
bulletHeadline: Located on Auschwitz site, Polish town, history clash 
bulletDate: 6/9/2002 
bulletByline: Beata Pasek, Associated Press 
bullet"OSWIECIM, Poland - Andrzej Czarnik was surprised, but hardly shocked, to learn that his home stood on the site of the first gas chamber Nazis used to kill Jews at Auschwitz."
To read the entire story, click on the link below or cut and paste it into a Web browser: Road closed ahead
bulletThe text of the article taken from the above site (should The Globe remove it from the above link)
Located on Auschwitz site, Polish town, history clash

By Beata Pasek, Associated Press, 6/9/2002

OSWIECIM, Poland - Andrzej Czarnik was surprised, but hardly shocked, to learn that his home stood on the site of the first gas chamber Nazis used to kill Jews at Auschwitz.

''In this town,'' he said, ''there are human ashes everywhere.''

A year ago, Czarnik agreed to an offer to take another house so the Auschwitz museum could demolish his and erect a memorial.

''What can you do about it?'' he said, sitting on a bench outside his new two-story home. ''You can't just plant grass everywhere.''

It's a familiar refrain among the 43,000 residents of Oswiecim, a poor industrial town in southern Poland, where remnants of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp seem to be everywhere.

Auschwitz, the German name for Oswiecim, is a highly sensitive symbol of the Nazi Holocaust of 6 million Jews, and international Jewish groups are pressing for more sites to be protected. The Auschwitz museum has given the city a list of 21.

Frustrated townspeople say that the preserved remains of the camp are symbol enough and that uncertainty over other so-called martyrdom sites hampers investment.

The town is hurting from layoffs that began in 1997 when the communist-era Dwory chemicals plant, the major employer, began restructuring.

''There is nothing here,'' said Czarnik, 40, who works seasonal jobs in Austria. ''Tourists are coming in great numbers, but the town gets nothing from them. Nobody wants to risk opening a business here, even a hamburger stand.''

Museum officials regarded Czarnik's property, across the street from a camp perimeter fence, as especially important. They say the Nazis expelled Czarnik's ancestors from a red-brick house and made it into a temporary gas chamber while awaiting completion of larger ones at Birkenau.

Tens of thousands of prisoners are believed to have perished in the ''Red House'' before it was razed. The Czarniks returned and rebuilt in the early 1950s.

The museum managed to settle amicably with Czarnik last year by offering him a new house, paid for by a $100,000 donation from a Polish-born French Jew.

Elsewhere, however, Jewish appeals to preserve off-camp sites have collided with private property rights and local fears that Oswiecim could become one big cemetery.

''The case of the Red House is an exception,'' said the museum's spokesman, Jaroslaw Mensfelt. ''We don't have money to buy out other sites.''

Not all of more than 1 million Jews who died at Auschwitz during Germany's occupation of Poland in World War II died in gas chambers. Some were worked to death in a tannery about a mile from the camp or in a nearby gravel pit. There were executions and grisly medical experiments at other sites.

The issue exploded into headlines two years ago when officials allowed a disco to open at the privately owned tannery site. It was closed after the Simon Wiesenthal Center and other Jewish groups protested.

They are raising similar objections to a commercial visitors center being built near the Auschwitz museum, with shops and restaurants, saying it denigrates the memory of Holocaust victims.

Developers counter that more services are needed for the half-million people a year who visit Auschwitz. They spend almost nothing in Oswiecim, arriving on day trips from Krakow 45 miles away.

Another dispute is brewing over an old ammunition factory where Auschwitz inmates were forced to toil. Italian investors propose a shopping center that could provide 300 jobs, but the Krakow provincial supervisor of historic preservation has delayed permits because it is on the museum's list.

Other sites include a weed-choked rail siding where Nazi doctors once decided which camp arrivals should work and which should die in gas chambers.

''The museum cannot do anything. It's all up to the town,'' Mensfelt said. ''Even if we took over the loading platform from the state railway company, we would have no money to maintain it.''

Jewish groups dispute contentions that the presence of the Auschwitz camp and related sites are hurting business.

''I think it's just the contrary,'' said Stanislaw Krajewski, a board member of the Union of Jewish Communities in Poland. ''There is more investment in Oswiecim than in other small towns, just because of the camp. And the city is profiting from it, but somehow cannot appreciate it.''

This story ran on page A15 of the Boston Globe on 6/9/2002.
© Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.

bulletAnd just for the record, here is the scan of the article (in JPEG) provided by Bill Hall.  (Click on the image for a medium size version or here for larger version, but CAUTION - medium & large image may take some time to load on slow modem line).
bullet Located on Auschwitz site, Polish town, history clash

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