Auschwitz death camp receives EU funds for preservation

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The museum's authorities said they hoped to create a fund to help maintain the more than 60-year-old site of the Holocaust genocide.

Warsaw -- Museum authorities at the former Nazi German Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in Poland said this week they had obtained 19 million zlotys (4.2 million euros or 5.4 million dollars) from the EU to help preserve the site.

The funding will be used for maintenance works on two brick barrack blocks and another six similar wooden buildings, according to an Auschwitz museum statement issued Wednesday.

Last week, the museum's authorities said they hoped to create a 100-million-euro (129-million-dollar) fund to help maintain the more than 60-year-old site of the Holocaust genocide.

The Polish state-run museum currently has an annual budget of about 5.5 million euros, half of which is covered by the Polish government and the rest predominantly by visitors' fees.

Between three to five percent of the annual budget is also covered by the Lauder Foundation and Germany's regional governments.

Last year there were 1.13 million visitors to Auschwitz, including 410,000 Poles, 110,000 British citizens, 75,000 Americans, 58,000 Germans and 44,000 Israelis.

The Auschwitz-Birkenau museum covers an area of 191-hectares (472-acres), including 155 buildings and 300 ruins.

The Nazis set up Auschwitz mostly for members of the Polish resistance nine months after invading Poland in 1939.

The original camp was located in a former Polish army barracks on the edge of the southern town of Oswiecim -- known in German as Auschwitz.

Two years later, the Nazis greatly expanded the site at nearby Brzezinka, or Birkenau, creating a combined 191-hectare killing zone.

About 1.1 million people died at Auschwitz-Birkenau between 1940 and 1945. One million of them were Jews from Poland and elsewhere in Nazi-occupied Europe. Some died from overwork, starvation and disease, but most were murdered in the notorious gas chambers.

An enduring symbol of the Holocaust, the Soviet Red Army liberated Auschwitz-Birkenau on January 27, 1945.

It was one of six death camps, including Chelmno, Treblinka, Sobibor, Majdanek and Belzec, created by Nazi Germany during World War II to kill Jews from across occupied Europe.

Non-Jewish Poles, Roma, gays and Soviet prisoners of war were among the other victims of Auschwitz-Birkenau and similar death camps.


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