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Frequently Asked Questions

Here you can find a list of repeated questions and answers – about us, our mission or The Indifference Challenge. Feel free to reach out if your question is not answered – e-mail us at info@auschwitzpledge.org.

What does Auschwitz have to do with all of this?

Auschwitz-Birkenau is a worldwide symbol of the Holocaust–the horrors caused by discrimination, hatred, exclusion, and indifference. As people who for years have been active in preserving the memory of that place, we may not sit back and do nothing, seeing what’s currently happening around the world. Discrimination is on the rise. Because we are aware that what led to the atrocities of concentration and extermination camps started inconspicuously with singling one group out, in this case mainly the Jewish people, isolating them, twisting their image, dehumanizing them, stirring hate against them, and identifying them as the enemy. History shows that crossing this line may take no more than a few years. By referencing the memory of Auschwitz-Birkenau, we want to shake society and ask the question–how many steps away are we today from the next Auschwitz materializing?

Why would a non-governmental organization fight indifference?

Non-governmental organizations are most frequently created by activists–people genuinely interested in and committed to the affairs of the world which surrounds them. They dedicate their time, oftentimes for no remuneration, to changing their closest surroundings for the better. They aren’t restricted by politics or external influences, which is why they’re able to work with full force. Examples of their effective activity are numerous–both at the level of big, global organizations as well as small, local institutions. We strongly believe that the Auschwitz Pledge Foundation, together with the people among its ranks committed to the cause and Partners supporting the project, is going to fulfill its mission.

Don’t we have a right to indifference?

Yes, you do have a right to remain indifferent and not react to the evil that surrounds you. Take a moment to think, however, what this kind of indifference led to in the past? Would the atrocities of Auschwitz have had a chance to materialize if the society, consisting of individuals, had not remained indifferent? By ignoring evil, you accept its consequences. That’s why it’s crucial to act here and now.

Will liking a post or sharing information be enough?

The need to share important information is natural. Unfortunately, social media may lead us to wrongly believe that “we’ve done all we could,” whereas in fact we can do so much more. What we’re proposing is a conscious use of new technologies and platforms available to us not just to share info but also to encourage people from our circle of acquaintances and friends to actively participate in the cause and promote particular actions. It is also worth noticing that mass media contribute to increasing indifference by the sheer multitude of reports and informational chaos. That’s why it’s so important to act also in other areas.

What benefits is this going to bring me?

First of all, you will be aware that your actions and your lack of indifference brought concrete, measurable effects–somebody was not insulted, offended, beaten up, killed. When the moment of truth comes, you will have retained your humanity and not closed your eyes to the distress of a fellow human being. You will have contributed to the creation of a tolerant, empathetic society. You will receive funds to make your vision come to life and gain experience in participating in a global competition organized under the auspices of the Auschwitz Pledge Foundation.

Aren’t there more pressing issues which require immediate action?

The world nowadays is facing many problems, however, we believe that the issue underlying the majority of them is indifference to the suffering of others and a lack of empathy. In order to counter and eliminate contemporary crises once and for all, we have to fight them at the source.

Are your actions politically motivated?

It’s not politics to counteract evil – but a human reflex. We are aware of what’s happening in the world and of the effects similar actions had brought about in the past. We don’t want anything like that to happen again, and that’s why we decided not to remain indifferent and take concrete action. Non-governmental organizations (such as the Auschwitz Pledge Foundation) are independent of the influence of politicians and driven by clearly determined values.

Is there anything I can do to fight discrimination and indifference?

Certainly. Everyone, regardless of their resources, can fight indifference. Everybody can effectively change their closest surroundings for the better. Only some have the possibility to act on a global scale. It is precisely with the aim of picking out such people and giving them a chance that we’re organizing our competition. The most important thing is do away with the conviction that this problem doesn’t concern us or that there’s nothing we can do about it.

What can I do if I’d like to join in the activities of the Auschwitz Pledge Foundation but don’t have any ideas, adequate resources or a team for a project?

If you lack an idea or the means to act globally, change the world locally. The best and most basic thing to do is to react. If you can see manifestations of discrimination in your closest surroundings, then just react. Take the oppressor to task, explain the reason why what they’re doing is wrong. If you feel it’s beyond you or that it would put your safety at risk, report the behaviour to relevant services. In your closest circle, react to hateful remarks; call out others even for seemingly “harmless” jokes and comments which may cause real harm. React and educate.

Why are you dealing with the problem of discrimination and indifference?

The problem of discrimination is a real and increasingly growing one. With the development of new technologies and increasing social inequalities, exclusion takes on new forms and individuals as well as whole groups are facing the consequences of discrimination. Today’s forms of exclusion adapt to new technologies and modern communication channels and are being reborn in front of our very eyes. Similarly we need to create new mechanisms which will be able to face up to modern forms of discrimination and the indifference of society that accompanies them.

How does your Foundation differ from other organization fighting discrimination?

In our activities we make references to the heritage of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration and extermination camp as to the symbolic, darkest moment in European history. We want this place to be a warning sign for both those who discriminate against others as well as for those who remain indifferent to such discrimination. Our competition aims to find innovative ways of preventing discrimination. People among the ranks of the Auschwitz Pledge Foundation are specialists with years of everyday experience in fighting indifference.

I’ve never experienced discrimination or exclusion. Why should I be worried about something that doesn’t concern me?

The issue of discrimination and exclusion concerns everybody, even if indirectly. Consider how many of your friends, acquaintances, collaborators are non-heteronormative, of a different skin colour than yours, different religion or race. How many women are there around you? Statistical research shows clearly that, most likely, every one of these people have experienced the upsetting or outright dangerous consequences of exclusion at least once in their lives. If you don’t feel the need to act for your own sake, act for the sake of those close to you.

Why should it be me who has to get involved?

The problem of discrimination is the problem of the whole of humanity. The sooner you start counteracting it and encouraging others to do the same, the faster the problem of indifference may become limited or almost completely eliminated. Don’t be afraid to make others act, but, like in the case of any change, one should start with oneself. The sooner you start to believe that you can change the world and do something good, the sooner you’ll be able to encourage those close to you to do the same in a sincere and powerful manner.

It’s also worth mentioning here the so-called “bystander effect”. It’s a term taken from psychology according to which particular individuals are less prone to help if there’s other people around. Doubtlessly every one of us has been in such a situation at least once–someone next to us needed help, but because we were convinced that somebody standing next to us would react, we remained indifferent. We don’t want such situations to repeat; we don’t want to be bystanders.

Can I postpone action for later?

We need actions here and now. We can’t be starting “tomorrow”. Do you know what “morgen früh” (German for “tomorrow morning”) meant in the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp? By this prisoners meant “never” because “tomorrow” might as well have never happened. If we don’t start acting now, it might be too late to act later.

Will the effort and the actions translate into something tangible?

Certainly, but that will depend on the extent to which each of us gets involved in individual actions and on the amount of actions we’ll be able to do together. By organizing the Indifference Challenge, the Auschwitz Pledge Foundation decided to create a framework and lend support to people who want to fight discrimination. We did this with the belief that a global competition will allow us to find a particular solution to the problem of exclusion. Whether the goal will be achieved or not will depend on the commitment of all of us. But most of all, on people’s participation in the Indifference Challenge, to which everyone is heartily invited.

I can't save the world on my own – can actions of a single person bring tangible results? What can I do as an individual?

One person can do a lot, but nobody expects that we should face indifference on our own. You can make a stand against discrimination and educate those in your closest circle, but let’s also meet and look for answers together. We’re using today’s possibilities for communication and global media; together with young researchers, we’re looking for ways to use the latest technologies to make all of us live together in a world free from exclusion. Dialogue and readiness to act are essential here. Innovative ideas and the energy of young, talented minds can visibly change the world.

 

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