Auschwitz launches Facebook donation drive

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Trustees at the Auschwitz museum marked the 66th anniversary of its liberation Thursday by launching a Facebook drive to help raise 120 million euros to preserve the site of the Nazi death camp.

In a message on its Facebook page, the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation said it hoped to draw 120 million euros ($164mn) donations from "individuals, organisations and governments around the world" to protect the site in Poland where an estimated 1.1 people were slaughtered during World War II.

Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, chairman of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation Council and a former prisoner at the camp, said the camp needed to be preserved as a permanent reminder to future generations.

"The barracks, the barbed wire, and the ruins of the crematoria and gas chambers are the best guardian of memory; through their silent presence they ensure that nobody can ever deny that the worst of the 20th century's crimes actually occurred," he said.

"By ensuring the preservation of the ... site and maintaining the testimonies of the past, we are, in fact, taking care of the future," he added in comments published on International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Having come to symbolise the Holocaust, the museum in Oswiecim, southern Poland, is state-run.

Polish authorities, plus revenues from publications and guided tours, cover most of the site's four to five million euro annual maitenance costs.

© 2011 AFP

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