France to donate six million euros to Auschwitz concentration camp site
France is to donate six million euros to the preservation of the Auschwitz former concentration camp in response to an international appeal for 120 million euros to maintain the site and its museum.
The French donation will be paid over five years, starting in 2012, Prime Minister François Fillon pledged in a letter to Simone Veil, a former Auschwitz prisoner and French MP who is honorary chair of the Fondation pour la Mémoire de la Shoah.
“Auschwitz-Birkenau as a place is taking on special importance and significance,” Fillon wrote, according to the museum’s site. “The undiminished debt that France owes to the tens of thousands of people deported from our country to that camp cries out for our full support for the creation of the perpetual fund that is intended to ensure the continuing maintenance of that place so that the remembrance of the victims will be passed on from generation to generation.”
Poland launched the 120-million-euro appeal to improve the site’s museum and preserve the 155 concentration camp buildings still standing, alongside 300 that are in ruins.
Donations worth a total of 97 million euros have been announced:
Germany: 60 million euros;
Poland: 10 million euros;
Austria: six million euros;
United States: 12 million euros;
United Kingdom: 2.8 million euros;
European Commission: four million euros;
Israel: 690,000 euros.
Auschwitz-Birkenau camp was built by the Nazis in southern Poland during the World War II and a museum was opened there by the Polish government in 1947.
About 1.1 million people died there, about one million of them Jews from all over occupied Europe.