Corrects to show that the museum is offering anonymity to the descendants of Auschwitz staff, not the staff themselves, whose names are already public.
The Auschwitz Museum is asking Germans and Austrians to donate Nazi documents about the death camp and it’s making a big concession in return.
It’s promising to grant the donors anonymity — and a guarantee their identities won’t be shared. The names of Auschwitz staff are already online, but descendants might not want to publicize that aspect of their family history.
“Without a comprehensive analysis and understanding of the motivation and mentality of the perpetrators, our efforts to wisely counsel future generations will only remain intuitive,” said Museum Director Dr. Piotr M. A. Cywiński in an appeal published on the museum’s website.
After the war, only a few sets of photos and private letters from SS staff members were found, alongside some single diaries.
To change that, the museum is asking for any documents, photos, personal letters or diaries that used to belong to SS officers or other people working at the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp.
“I am absolutely convinced that only a mutual effort can lead to a fuller understanding of the mechanisms of hatred,” Director Cywiński said. “Analyses from the perspective of the victims … cannot fully serve the purpose.”
The museum is reaching out to newspapers in Germany and Austria to publicize the cause.
Lilly Maier is a news intern at the Forward. She is a graduate journalism student at New York University, where she studies as a Fulbright scholar. She also holds a B.A. in Jewish history from the University of Munich.
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Auschwitz Promises Anonymity to Nazi Descendants in Return for Documents