Israel earmarks 3.6 million shekels to help save Auschwitz

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The Israeli government has earmarked 3.6 million shekels to help conserve the former Auschwitz Nazi death camp in Poland, the local museum said Friday.

Benjamin Netanjahu's government will send the money (700,000 euros, one million dollars) in two tranches in 2012 and 2013 to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation, which runs an international conservation fund, the museum said in a statement.

The museum wants to collect a total of 120 million euros (162 million dollars) for the permanent fund whose annual revenue estimated at four-five million euros allows for the systematic financing of maintenance works at the Holocaust symbol.

Germany has already earmarked 60 million euros, the United States 15 million dollars, Poland 10 million euros, Austria six million euros and Britain 2.5 million British pounds for the fund.

The former death camp built by Nazi Germany in the south of occupied Poland during World War II covers an area of 200 hectares (495 acres) and comprises 155 preserved buildings and 300 ruins.

At present, the maintenance of the camp visited annually by almost a million people depends largely on the Polish government which provides four-five million euros for the work every year.

The wooden buildings deteriorate quickly in the area's humid, swampy soil, and thousands of personal effects belonging to Auschwitz prisoners and exhibited in the museum also require regular care.

Nazi Germany killed about 1.1 million people at Auschwitz-Birkenau between 1940 and 1945, including a million Jews from different European countries.

© 2011 AFP

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