holocaust og folkedrab



– Erindringssted og turistattraktion. En analyse af erindringer og deres brug.

Af Anne Wæhrens


Today Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest of the former Nazi death camps, is a symbol for the Holocaust and a place of memory that is a part of many collective memories around the world. At the same time it is also a popular tourist attraction, within the field of dark tourism, which is the name for travelling to sites associated with death and disaster. 

This dissertation takes departure in the theoretical fields of tourism studies and the studies of memory and its connection to history. With this theoretical framework in mind the main objective of the thesis is to answer the following questions: What kind of memory does the institution Auschwitz-Birkenau represent and how do they communicate this? How does the international society use Auschwitz-Birkenau as a symbol and a place of memory? And how do the visitors in Auschwitz-Birkenau experience the place and what is their memory of their visit? The main focus is after 1989.

In order to answer these questions the dissertation examines various materials from the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum, the UN, the Danish Auschwitz Day, and the Israeli March of the Living. Apart from this the source material also consists of interviews with 15 visitors, who have been asked various questions about their visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau.

The Auschwitz-Birkenau museum tries to balance the various memories connected with the former camp and seeks to communicate this through maintaining an authentic place, which serves as the foundation for emotionally affecting the visitors. Thereby the museum wants to educate their audience, making them aware of how to avoid the repetition of history.

UN and Denmark use the symbol Auschwitz-Birkenau as point of departure for discussing the Holocaust, other genocides and similar situations in history as well as today. The March of the Living uses both the symbol and the place in creating a common Jewish identity.

All the interviewed visitors have had a strong and emotionally experience in Auschwitz-Birkenau characterised by ambivalence towards the place and its history. Although the national Polish memory is still dominating the memory the museum communicates, the visitors does not see it as a Polish but mainly as a Jewish place of memory. When it comes to the educational benefit of the visit none of the visitors gets the optimal output: The younger visitors who possess the biggest potential for learning are not able to understand the history of the place. And the older visitors, who do understand it, say that they haven’t learnt anything new from their visit. The amount of possession of knowledge and the ability to think abstract is the main conditions for at successful educational output. But it is also determined by a certain amount of explanations that the museum fails to give.


Opdateret: 10-07-07