Ethics, i.e. the collection of commonly approved and socially accepted standards and rules, takes on a new dimension in such circumstances. During the last thematic section, of major importance for the entire message conveyed, representatives of the Martyrological Museum in Żabikowo, Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum in Oświęcim and the Stutthof Museum in Sztutowo presented their experience, reflections, remarks and proposals.
At present, basic issues and dilemmas are as follows:
Should we start digging if the context is formed by memorial site, cemetery, authenticity and inviolability?
When is interference in the land an utmost necessity?
How can activities be conducted which require interference in the land?
Where is the limit between legal obligations and ethics, which is not always easy to grasp?
How to conduct research in accordance with ethical principles and respect for the resting place?
What about the acquired material, even if it is so-called mass material which can be counted in thousands?
How to bear the consequences of obtaining thousands of objects deprived of individual characteristics, but important for the context of the place (conservation, storage, protection, packaging, description, sharing, and most importantly decent warehouse storage conditions, which is connected with the number of working posts and square meters, which are usually limited in historical locations)?
With all these questions asked, the majority of answers require detailed analysis and implementing some standards and rules of conduct in all memorial sites in order to unify the guidelines for conducting archaeological works within the areas considered as monuments, cemeteries, memorial sites and sites of martyrological heritage.
Conference organizers have planned to issue the publication summarizing and completing all presentations and some of the questions will be answered there, but at present, the discussion is still in progress and there are many topics which require thorough analysis and the implementation of legislative solutions making it possible for museum staff to conduct their activities at the expected level and aimed at one particular goal: preserving the memory.
Archaeological search during conservation of brick barracks at the Auschwitz II-Birkenau site. Photo: Auschwitz Memorial