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January 14, 2013 12:16 pm

Fundraising Campaign Secures Millions in Effort to Preserve Auschwitz

avatar by Zach Pontz

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Bunk beds in a barrack at Auschwitz-Birkenau. Photo: wiki commons.

A host of countries have donated money to a recent fundraising effort by the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation meant to help preserve the historical site.

Because of weather in recent years many of the structures at the site have been compromised. In an effort to renovate them, the Auschwitz Museum set up a fundraising initiative run by Jacek Kastelaniec, director of the Foundation.

Germany was the biggest donor, contributing 60 millions euros. The United States contributed 15 million, Poland 10 million, France and Austria 5 million each, the UK 2.5 million, and Israel one million. Countries such as Australia, New Zealand and even Turkey chipped in. So far the foundation has raised 99 million of what it hopes will ultimately be a 120 million euro preservation project.

“The greater problem is Birkenau, located between two rivers,” Kastelaniec told the Israeli daily Maariv. “Rainy seasons overflow the rivers and flood the land, which is what pushed the pavilions to the brink of collapse. Three years ago we decided to start fundraising, and last June we started the renovation work at the camp, which is supposed to take 15 years.”

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Some experts have voiced skepticism, however, saying that by the time the renovations are complete they’ll have to start all over again because of damage done in the interim by the weather.

Meanwhile the fundraising efforts persist as the Foundation aims to raise the 21 million euros it needs to reach its goal.

In 2012 Auschwitz recorded 1.43 million visitors, a record number.

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