More than 2 million people from all over the world visited the Auschwitz-Birkeneu Memorial and Museum in 2016, a record number.
The top ten countries visitors came from were:
United Kingdom (271,000)
United States (215,000)
Czech Republic (60,000)
Last year also saw the number of visitors from several countries increase significantly in comparison with the previous year: Portugal (115 per cent), Italy (91 per cent), Spain (68 per cent), Israel (59 per cent) and France (44 per cent).
More records were set when on 26 July 2016, nearly 21,000 people visited the site, the highest number recorded for a single day to the site. And August saw 271,225 visitors, the highest number in a single month. There was also a special event for World Youth Day, which saw over 155,000 young people visit the site over a 12 day period when the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial which was made accessible only to that group during that time, ensuring that the next generation is educated on the atrocities of the past.
In addition to all these numbers, it is encouraging to know that the vast majority of the visitors (almost 1.5 million) are taken around the site by a Museum educator/guide, who explain the history of Auschwitz to them so they fully understand everything that went on there.
‘In today’s world – torn by conflicts, increased feeling of insecurity and strengthening of populist tones in public discourse – it is necessary to re-listen to the darkest warnings from the past,’ said Dr. Piotr M. A. Cywiński, director of the Museum and Memorial. ‘Not-so-distant past of which the painful effects are still felt by witnesses living among us, their families and the next generations. In an era of such rapid changes in culture and civilisation, we must again recognise the limits beyond which the madness of organised hatred and blindness may again escape out of any control,’ he added.
We are encouraged to hear that more people than ever are visiting Auschwitz, the site of one of history’s darkest hours. While anti-Semitism is on the rise throughout Europe, it it would appear that more people are also opening their eyes to the truth of the past.
Education is essential for the next generation to learn from the atrocities of the past, in the hope that they will never be repeated.