Memorial ceremony in Auschwitz: Volkswagen Group and State of Lower Saxony pay
tribute on 25th anniversary of International Youth Meeting Centre
Auschwitz/Wolfsburg, 05 December 2011 – Lower Saxony’s Minister President, David McAllister, Volkswagen AG’s CEO, Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn, and the Chairman of the Volkswagen Group Works, Bernd Osterloh, paid tribute on the 25th anniversary of the Auschwitz International Youth Meeting Centre at a memorial ceremony in Oświęcim / Auschwitz. Volkswagen was involved in the construction of the centre from its inception.
“The victims of Auschwitz and the holocaust must never be forgotten! Apart from historical knowledge, dialog, discussions and encounters are vital to preserving the memories. The International Youth Meeting Centre has impressively achieved such remembrance for the last 25 years. Lower Saxony together with other German states supports the preservation of the Auschwitz Memorial Site.
For 25 years now, Volkswagen AG has also embraced the goal of encouraging exchange and reconciliation between Germans and Poles. I believe that merits deep respect and thanks. An excellent job is being done here,” Minister President David McAllister underscored.
“Places like this teach us that we all bear a responsibility for an open, free and democratic society. That applies to each and every one of us. And most of all, it holds true for the younger generation because peace and freedom still cannot be taken for granted today,” Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn said.
“We are glad our apprentices can help preserve the Auschwitz Memorial Site, which is so important for the world as a place of remembrance. At the same time, the International Youth Meeting Centre is one of the key examples of how remembrance needs a place where young people can understand that what democracy needs most is democrats who can and will protect that democracy,” Bernd Osterloh underlined. Volkswagen apprentices and their Polish colleagues have been committed to preserving the Memorial Site for over 20 years.
On the occasion of the ceremony, David McAllister, Prof. Dr. Winterkorn, and Bernd Osterloh met two holocaust survivors, Zofia Posmysz and Marian Turski.
Christoph Heubner, Vice-President of the International Auschwitz Committee, emphasized: “The State of Lower Saxony and Volkswagen have supported both the Memorial Site and the International Youth Meeting Centre in many ways over the past years. We still need this assistance to continue and intensify our work with young people from all over the world. Regrettably, the ideology behind Auschwitz has not died out, as the most recent developments clearly show.”
The visitors laid wreaths at the Auschwitz Memorial Site in memory of the victims of the National Socialist reign of terror.
Background: Five times a year, apprentices and young Poles spend two weeks helping to maintain the Auschwitz Memorial Site under the guidance of the International Auschwitz Committee (IAC). More than 2,000 Volkswagen apprentices have taken part in such youth encounters in Poland over the last 23 years. 156 management talents and master craftspersons have also made regular visits to the Auschwitz Memorial Site since June 2008 under an encounter program.