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Last Updated: Friday, 31 March 2006, 00:30 GMT 01:30 UK
Poland seeks Auschwitz renaming
The entrance of the Auschwitz concentration camp in southern Poland
Auschwitz is the most memorable symbol of the Holocaust
Poland wants the official name of Auschwitz-Birkenau changed to remind the world that the death camp was built and run by Nazi Germany.

The government in Warsaw is anxious that the grim history of the Auschwitz site, listed as a Unesco world heritage site, is not linked to Poles or Poland.

Poland wants Unesco to change the official name to "Former Nazi German Concentration Camp Auschwitz-Birkenau".

More than a million people, almost all Jews, died there between 1940 and 1945.

The Nazi regime killed some six million Jews during World War II.

Warsaw angry

The twin camps of Auschwitz and Birkenau, built in occupied Poland near the town of Oswiecim, were designed, built and operated by Nazi Germany.

For the contemporary, younger generations, especially abroad, that association with Nazi Germany is not universal
Jan Kasprzyk
Poland government spokesman
However, Polish officials have become unsettled by media references to Auschwitz as a "Polish concentration camp".

German newspaper Der Spiegel this week called the camp "Polish", prompting anger in Warsaw.

"In the years after the war, the former Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp was definitively associated with the criminal activities of the national socialist Nazi regime in Germany," Polish government spokesman Jan Kasprzyk told a Polish news agency.

"However, for the contemporary, younger generations, especially abroad, that association is not universal."

'No doubt'

Unesco's current description of Auschwitz says that the "fortified walls, barbed wire, platforms, barracks, gallows, gas chambers and cremation ovens show the conditions within which the Nazi genocide took place in the former concentration and extermination camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest in the Third Reich."

However, Mr Kasprzyk added: "The proposed change in the name leaves no doubt as to what the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp was."

The Polish government made the request to change the name in writing to Unesco - the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation.

The body added Auschwitz-Birkenau to its list of world heritage sites in 1979.

Poland said it expected an answer later this year.


SEE ALSO:
Auschwitz spoof outrages Poland
11 Aug 05 |  Europe
Q&A: Auschwitz
27 Jan 05 |  Europe


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