Auschwitz evokes images of wooden barracks and gas chambers in which millions of Jews were gassed and burned during the Second World War. But it is also an average Polish village where 40,000 people live who are ordinary bakers, postmen or IT consultants.

"In April 2014 I was on the train from Katowice to Oswiecim (Auschwitz). On the benches next to me two teenage girls were complaining about life in Oswiecim." Do you know why I wouldn't want to live in Oswiecim? There are too many mosquitoes." The alienating shock that this almost banal comment caused to me is the basis of this report: How can Auschwitz, symbol of the ultimate evil and the center of European identity, just be a normal Polish village? "

In 'Living in Auschwitz' Thomas Van de Putte tries to find out how Auschwitz as a symbol and Oswiecim as a typical village can be united. The report tells stories of people who live in Oswiecim. How do they view the Holocaust in their village? Indifferent? Taboo? As a source of income? Or with great commitment? The report also follows a group of Belgian visitors, for whom the confrontation with Auschwitz is more cursory, but charged in a different, indirectly cultural-historical way.

Team members

Thomas Van de Putte

Thomas Van de Putte studied History at the University of Ghent and Nationalism Studies at Central European University. He has worked as a journalist for Reuters and as a freelance journalist for various broadcasters and newspapers across Europe.

A working grant of € 3.800 allocated on 30/10/2014.


'Living in Auschwitz', Vranckx, VRT/Canvas, 16/05/ 2015.


Living in Auschwitz

need resources for your own investigative story?

Journalismfund Europe's flexible grants programmes enable journalists to produce relevant public interest stories with a European mind-set from international, national, and regional perspectives.


support independent cross-border investigative journalism

We rely on your support to continue the work that we do. Make a gift of any amount today.