Austria contributes to Auschwitz preservation fund

1st February 2011, Comments 0 comments

The Austrian government agreed on Tuesday to contribute six million euros ($8.3 million) to help preserve the Auschwitz museum at the site of the Nazi death camp in Poland.

The cabinet decided at a meeting here to make the funding available next year to a foundation set up to protect the site at Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland.

Other countries have also pledged donations, with Germany contributing 60 million euros.

The museum is "one of the most important memorial sites for the Holocaust and its preservation for future generations is of paramount importance for Austria," Chancellor Werner Faymann, Finance Minister Josef Proell and Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger said in a statement.

Last month, the museum's trustees marked the 66th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz by launching a Facebook drive to help raise 120 million euros to preserve the site as a permanent reminder to future generations.

The museum in Oswiecim, southern Poland, is state-run and Polish public funds, as well as revenues from publications and guided tours, cover most of the site's annual maintenance costs of 4-5 million euros.

Auschwitz-Birkenau has become an enduring symbol of the Holocaust, Nazi Germany's wartime campaign of genocide against Europe's Jews.

A year after invading Poland in 1939, the Nazis opened what was to become a vast complex on the edge of the southern town of Oswiecim -- Auschwitz in German. They later expanded it at the nearby village of Brzezinka, or Birkenau.

Of the six million Jews killed by Nazi Germany in the Holocaust, one million were murdered at the site, mostly in its notorious gas chambers, along with tens of thousands of others including Poles, Roma and Soviet prisoners of war.

© 2011 AFP

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