Sites of Conscience: Remembering Disappearance, Execution, Imprisonment, Murder, Slavery and Torture

Publisher:
Australian Scholarly Publishing
Publication Type:
Chapter
Citation:
Silent System: Forgotten Australians and the Institutionalisation of Women and Children, 2014, pp. 59 - 70
Issue Date:
2014
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In 1947, the Polish government decreed that what remained of the Auschwitz-Birkenau-Monowitz death camps was to be kept to memorialise 'the martyrdom of the Polish nation and other peoples' under the Third Reich during World War II. The Oswi~cim-Brzezinka State Museum took over around 200 hectares of the camps in chat year. Thirty-two years later Auschwitz-Birkenau was listed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as a World Cultural Heritage Site. A sites of conscience movement was to slowly emerge in the second half of the twentieth-century in the post-colonial wake of collapsing empires, dictatorships and oppressive regimes. The period after World War II was one of profound change in which the movements for human freedom from colonial rule and for human rights, civil rights, land rights, women's rights and children's rights gradually brought about important social and political reforms. On one level chis began in 1945 when fifty countries met in San Francisco to form the United Nations (UN) which had a mandate to maintain international peace and foster solutions to international issues. Charters were adopted concerning the civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights to which all human beings were entitled. And on 10 December 1948, members of the UN voted into being the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Most sites of conscience, however, came into being from the 1990s after decades of local, national and international struggles. Examples abound.
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