Auschwitz Jewish Center awarded for educating youth


The Auschwitz Jewish Center received the Austrian Holocaust Memorial Award for its work to educate youth about the Nazi genocide of European Jewry.

The presentation on Jan. 27 in honor of international Holocaust Memorial Day marked the 67th anniversary of the liberation of the death camp, and was among hundreds of commemorations held around the world.

At the Auschwitz Jewish Center, located outside the gates of the former Nazi death camp in the Polish town of Oswiecim, Austrian Ambassador to Poland Herbert Krauss commended center Director Tomasz Kuncewicz, 39, and his staff for their “commitment to commemorate the town’s Jewish past and conceptualizing education programs with local youth.”

Krauss presented the symbolic award on behalf of the non-profit Austrian Service Abroad organization, which initiated the non-monetary honor in 2006 to recognize Holocaust educational programs around the world. The center is one of the many places to which the service sends young Austrian men as a civilian alternative to mandatory military service. This year’s intern, Lukas Sperling, gave Krauss a guided tour.

The center, linked with the Chevra Lomdei Mishnayot Synagogue, opened in 2000 with a mandate to educate about pre-war Jewish life, the Holocaust and the dangers of xenophobia and anti-Semitism. Under the directorship of Kuncewicz since 2000, the center has received numerous awards for its educational programs. Kuncewicz was born in Poland and studied at Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan, Poland, and Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts.

Since August, 2006, the Center has been affiliated with the Museum of Jewish Heritage—A Living Memorial to the Holocaust in New York.