The Auschwitz concentration camp, liberated 65 years ago this week, is in desperate need of funding to preserve it as a potent reminder of the most extreme example of hatred and intolerance. B’nai B’rith International has issued the following statement:B’nai B’rith International is urging President Obama to include a $5 million designation in the upcoming budget for the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation Perpetual Fund to help restore and maintain the memorial facilities at the site of what is the most notorious Nazi concentration camp. In December, Germany announced it would commit about $85 million to the fund.
In 2009, B’nai B’rith wrote to the leaders of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs, explaining the vital need to preserve this symbol of oppression and prejudice. Auschwitz must be restored to bear witness to Nazi tyranny and genocide. The memorial has proven a vital education site for millions of visitors.
The camp was constructed to be a housing and execution facility. Because of the lack of foundations and winter-proofing in many of the buildings, more than half of them are closed because they are unsafe for public entry. According to estimates by the museum, none of the buildings will be open for public visits within the next 10 or 20 years if plans for preservation are not implemented.
Current conservation and preservation needs are estimated to be in excess of $87 million. Under the plan of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation Perpetual Fund, that sum will be collected from private and national donors and will be invested through a transparent process. Given the estimated annual accruement from that investment, the museum intends to use the interest gained to pay for regular conservation and maintenance efforts rather than requesting foreign aid regularly. Instead of repeatedly raising funds, under this system the museum will have the necessary revenue to maintain the facilities. More than 17 nations have agreed so far to contribute to the restoration. The United States must join this effort.