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The 75th Anniversary of Auschwitz Liberation celebrated at the Jagiellonian University.


Piotr Kochan



Introduction

This year’s anniversary of liberation of the Nazi German death camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau traditionally took place in Cracow at the Jagiellonian University Collegium Novum on 24 January 2020 (Figure 1).

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Figure 1. Collegium Novum hall where the celebrations took place.
[please click on the image to enlarge]

The event was co-organized by the Rector of the Jagiellonian University, Prorector of the Jagiellonian University Medical College, Cracow Medical Society (TLK) and the Memorial and Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau. The day started with a live transmission from the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust (LAMOTH) in the United States of America. The speaker was Michele Gold, Board Chair from LAMOTH. You may see the full recording in Figure 2.



Figure 2. Full recording of the transmission of Michele Gold’s live talk from the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust (LAMOTH), USA. To see the film please visit the official WJOMI YouTube channel or click on the link: https://youtu.be/sj0Wah6GSEU
[please click on the image to start the film]

The programme of the 75th Anniversary of Auschwitz Liberation was opened by the Rector of the Jagiellonian University Prof. Wojciech Nowak. It was followed by a lecture of Prof. Igor Gościński, the current head of Cracow Medical Society. He updated the audience on the developments of a vast collection of articles published as Medical Review – Auschwitz / Przegląd Lekarski – Oświęcim. Currently there are ongoing works to make those articles available to an international audience by translating them into English. More information about these publications may be found in the previous WJOMI articles by Prof. Gościński and on Medycyna Praktyczna website [1, 2, 4, 5].

Prof. Gościński’s presentation was followed by an interesting guest speaker, Father Dr. Manfred Deselaers, the Pastor of the German Episcopate abroad, Vice President of the Krakow Foundation for the Center for Dialogue and Prayer in Oświęcim who gave a moving speech about his 25-year experience of dialogue at the gates of Auschwitz. Father Deselaers spoke very good Polish and concluded that the best way to make such a difficult dialogue is to listen. He has a lot of experience with international visitors and for the past 25 years he lives in Oświęcim in Poland.

The last talk of the afternoon was that of Prof. Aleksander Skotnicki, the former head of the Haematology Clinic of the Jagiellonian University Medical College and now part of the TLK authorities. He concentrated on Sonderaktion Krakau, the day of 6 November 1939, when the German occupants of Cracow tricked Polish professors to attend a lecture at Collegium Novum and then arrested them all and sent them to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp (Figure 3).










































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figure3
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Figure 3. The famous drawing depicting the Nazi Sonderaktion Krakau with Jagiellonian University professors being arrested on 6 November 1939, taken from Prof. Skotnicki’s presentation. The modern day photo below represents the same university staircase in Collegium Novum where the events took place.
[please click on the image to enlarge]

The professors were internationally acclaimed, so the action aimed at the Polish intelligence fired back on the Nazis and under international pressure some of them were released. Unfortunately many died before that time. Prof. Kazimierz Kostanecki was the famous physician and anatomist considered the father of Cracow’s School of Anatomy on Kopernika Street. His life and death was described in details by Prof. Skotnicki. He is known as one of the most famous Jagiellonian University medical doctors to have been murdered by the Nazis. He died in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp on 11 January 1940.

Such anniversaries make one think not only of the victims but also of the atrocities that humans are capable of. The worrisome aspect of annual meetings is that the gatherings do not attract such a big audience anymore and that it’s up to all of us to make the future generations remember. Hopefully, using modern communication tools, such as the Internet, will make it possible to propagate this very important historical message as a warning to future generations.

References

[1] Gościński I. Formal meeting on the occasion of 72nd Anniversary of the Liberation of the Nazi German Concentration Camp in Auschwitz-Birkenau - Part II. World J Med Images Videos Cases 2017; 3:e55-56.
[2] Gościński I. Formal meeting on the occasion of 72nd Anniversary of the Liberation of the Nazi German Concentration Camp in Auschwitz-Birkenau - Part I. World J Med Images Videos Cases 2017; 3:e35.
[3] Towarzystwo Lekarskie Krakowskie – Działalność wydawnicza. Access valid on 31 January 2020: http://www.tlk.cm-uj.krakow.pl/wydawnictwo.html
[4] Medical Review – Auschwitz (Przegląd Lekarski – Oświęcim). The project has been developed with the aim of sharing all 31 volumes of Medical Review – Auschwitz with the international community by making the articles available free of charge online. TLK & Medycyna Praktyczna. Access valid on 31 January 2020: https://www.mp.pl/auschwitz/
[5] Gościński I. Remembering Prof. Józef Bogusz - the longest serving president of Cracow Medical Society. World J Med Images Videos Cases 2019; 5:e75-78.

Conflict of interest: Piotr Kochan is the Editor-in-Chief of WJOMI as well as the Board of Directors Member of the Cracow Medical Society (TLK).

Authors’ affiliations:
1 Chair of Microbiology, Jagiellonian University Medical College in Cracow, Poland.


Corresponding author:
Piotr Kochan, M.D., Ph.D.
Chair of Microbiology JUMC
ul. Czysta 18
31-121 Cracow, Poland
e-mail: pkochan@cm-uj.krakow.pl

To cite this article: Kochan P. The 75th Anniversary of Auschwitz Liberation celebrated at the Jagiellonian University. World J Med Images Videos Cases 2019; 6:e1-4.

Submitted for publication: 24 January 2020
Accepted for publication: 30 January 2020
Published on: 31 January 2020

























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