The idea of building the International Youth Meeting Center (IYMC) in Oświęcim was first presented in 1971 by the Action Reconciliation Service for Peace (ARSP) to the government of the Polish People’s Republic. Many years passed before the Center was opened officially on 7th December 1986.
It was possible thanks to the involvement and financial support of many people and institutions from Germany and Poland. In this process, special recognition must be given to the former prisoners of KL Auschwitz, who, from the very beginning, were involved in the idea of creating such an institution in Oświęcim. The creation of the IYMC was supported strongly by ARSP and its representatives Volker von Törne and Christoph Heubner who were friends with former Auschwitz prisoner Tadeusz Szymański, but also by the representatives of the Society of Fighters for Freedom and Democracy (Polish: Związek Bojowników o Wolność i Demokrację, ZBoWiD) and the city of Oświęcim.
In 1979, in one of his articles entitled “Youth Between the Past and Future” („Jugend zwischen Geschichte und Zukunft”) Volker von Törne wrote: “The purpose of the International Youth Meeting Center will be to host young people from around the world and give them the opportunity to discuss, based on historical events, relevant issues relating to understanding and reconciliation between nations. Because without a historical consciousness, which also includes knowledge about Auschwitz, service for peace is impossible.” This concept is still valid today. The Polish-German cooperation initiated in the 1960s continues to this day. The Foundation for the IYMC is a Polish-German organization founded by the Action Reconciliation service for Peace and the city of Oświęcim. All the bodies of the Foundation are composed, in equal proportions, of Polish and German members. Polish and German employees work hand in hand in the Centre. Currently, the IYMC has an international team.