Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation donates EUR 2.62 mln for conservation work

Last year, the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation donated a record amount of PLN 12 million (EUR 2.62 million) towards conservation work at the Auschwitz Memorial, the head of the foundation, Marek Zajac, has announced.

Zajac, addressing a sitting of the foundation's International Committee said that this year this sum would be even higher.

The International Committee includes representatives of the donor states who support the foundation's Perpetual Fund.

Zajac, quoted in a communique issued by the Memorial and the Museum at the former German Nazi concentration and extermination camp, said that thanks to donations, it would be possible to implement, even during the difficult period of the pandemic, the Global Conservation Plan (GPK) at the memorial site.

Among the most important works currently being carried out are the conservation and protection of the ruins of the gas chamber and crematorium II, as well as the brick barracks at the former Auschwitz II-Birkenau camp.

Thanks to support from the foundation, experts, in the past year, restored 400 camp letters, as well as nearly 400 items from the museum's collection department including: suitcases, baskets, shoes, pots, cyclone B cans, elements of gas chambers and a crematorium.

Under the auspices of the Global Conservation Plan, work has also started on the creation of conservation facilities inside the historic building of the so-called potato warehouses (Kartoffelbunker) located near the south-eastern end of the former German Auschwitz II-Birkenau camp.

Museum officials, summarising the most important events of recent months, announced that Germany has doubled its contribution, from EUR 60 million to EUR 120 million, to the Perpetual Fund. Also, the US, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom significantly increased their support. Ireland, Monaco and Portugal also raised their donations. During the meeting, Italy announced that it also would raise its contribution.

Wojciech Soczewica, director general of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation announced that the sum of financial declarations currently amounts to over EUR 170 million.

The mission of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation, established in 2009, is to secure all the authentic remains of the former German camp. Thanks to the support of nearly 40 countries, as well as private individuals, it is possible to finance conservation works at the memorial.

The role of the foundation's International Committee is to provide donor states with full access to information on the foundation's finances and activities. The Committee also has an advisory and opinion-making function. It is composed of people recommended by individual countries.

The Nazi Germans established the Auschwitz camp in 1940, initially for the imprisonment of Poles. Auschwitz II-Birkenau was established two years later and became the main site for the mass extermination of Jews. There was also a network of sub-camps in the complex. The Germans killed at least 1.1 million people at Auschwitz, mainly Jews, but also Poles, Roma and Soviet prisoners of war.

The camp was liberated by the Red Army on January 27, 1945. In 1947, the camp site was declared a national memorial site. In 2019, the museum was visited by 2.32 million persons.