Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Project to establish the Museum-Memorial Site in the area of the former German-Nazi extermination camp in Sobibor is an international initiative. The initiative, taken in September 2008 by Poland, the Netherlands, Israel and Slovakia, involves the creation of a State Memorial Site in the area of the former extermination camp with the content-related and financial participation in the Project of all participating countries.

In February 2011, the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage assigned the role of the Project operator to the Foundation for the Polish-German Reconciliation, which since then, acts as a Project coordinator and its treasurer. The Steering Group, composed of the representatives of the States-Project Participants, sets directions and tasks for the respective Project stages. The Steering Group authorizes any expenditure incurred from the joint budget.

The main objective of the Project is to commemorate the victims of Sobibór and to establish the museum, which has the aim of passing down the history of mass extermination to this and future generations. The first objective is the defense and proper protection of the ashes of those murdered here. Since the Nazi-Germans already tried in 1943 to erase all the traces of mass murder, it was necessary to begin with archeological research. Further research stages were conducted from 2011 to 2013. They allowed, inter alia, to establish where the ashes of the murdered people were buried and determined the course of “Himmelfahrtstraße” – death route called ”Way to Heaven”, which led to the Camp III – place of direct extermination.

Since mid-2012 the works on the concept of architecture arrangement of this place were underway, taking into consideration the character and importance of the place that combines the commemorating, museum and educational functions. It was determined that the architecture-artistic concept of the new Memorial Site will be chosen through an open contest for participants world-wide. Members of the Steering Group agreed on the shape and function of the new Memorial Site and in December 2012, they approved the project of the contest regulations developed by the Foundation for the Polish-German Reconciliation. The official inauguration of the contest took place on 18 January 2013 in the seat of Ministry of Culture and National Heritage with the participation of the Secretary of State at the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, Mr. Piotr Żuchowski, the Secretary of State in the Chancellery of the Prime Minister and the representative of the Polish Prime Minister for the international dialogue, Mr. Władysław Bartoszewski and the representatives of diplomatic missions of the countries, which citizens were victims of the German-Nazi extermination camp in Sobibór. The contest’s organizer was the State Museum at Majdanek – the owner of the land and organizer of the Sobibór’s museum. The Foundation for the Polish-German Reconciliation was responsible for carrying out the activities connected with the performance of the contest. The contest results together with the identification of projects was made publicly on 18 July 2013, in the site of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews. The Contest Jury pointed out, from the 63 submitted contest projects, four architecture-artistic concepts. Three of them were rewarded, the fourth project was honorable mentioned. In October 2013, among three contest’s winners, the State Museum at Majdanek (in the result of conducted proceedings on the public contract award procedure) chose the project of the Contest Participant (The First Prize Winner), who presented the most advantageous offer for the realization of his concept. The commencement of the construction investment is the subject of ongoing works.

You are cordially invited to follow closely the development of this important, international project, to familiarize yourself with the effects of its previous work and to cooperate on commemorating the victims of the Nazi-German extermination camp in Sobibór.

Dariusz Pawłoś

Chairman of the Board of the Foundation for „Polish-German Reconciliation”.

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