0506-ElderNoelButler Elder Noel Butler performing the ceremony at the gate of Birkenau - photo by Martin Nangle

As the Auschwitz museum seeks funds to keep the preservation and the memory of the past alive for future generations, 59-year-old Noel Butler, an Aboriginal elder from the Budawang people in New South Wales, Australia, has travelled 16,000 km today to the gate of Auschwitz II–Birkenau, to perform the first ever Aboriginal healing ceremony, 65 years after the camp’s liberation.

Organised by An Tairseach, a UK culture & media group, the event is part of a European tour for Noel Butler to places of suffering and tragedy. Travelling from from Ulladulla NSW, he is visiting Krakow and Belfast, connecting the world’s oldest culture with memories of the recent past while helping with healing and renewal.

“I have come from my people to your people,” Butler said to a representative from the Museum. “And I hope I can help and together we can move on with the memory of those who died.”

In a recent interview with the Krakow Post, the museum’s director, Dr. Piotr Cywiński, said, “We need to secure the situation for future generations where we understand the importance of Auschwitz-Birkenau as a place where we should all meet. Birkenau is a colossal grave. Everyone takes care of the graves of their ancestors and it is only natural that such sites are taken care of to become more meaningful in helping young people understand the place.”

Noel Butler has worked with his organisation Jamanee Gunya for over 20 years, working with young people and educating them on Aboriginal culture.

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