(ISJM) Agence-France Presse (February 04, 2009)reports that the Auschwitz-Birkanau Museum at the former Nazi German Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in Poland has obtained 4.2 million euros (US$5.4-million dollars)in EU funding to help preserve the site.
Conservation needs are considerable at both main sites. The smaller Auschwitz I site has more buildings of more substantial materials, and more exhibitions. Auschwitz-Birkenau, which functioned as a death camp occupies a larger area, and many of the features(some of which are actually post-War reconstructions), include wooden barracks, watchtowers, barbed wire and the remains of the crematoria, require regular conservation work.
In the 1990s an major international efforts was undertaken to get commitments of large donations from European countries to conserve the site, which because of the original temporary nature of much of its infrastructure, and because of the delicate state of preservation of much of the organic matter of the site (i.e. wood) and of the exhibitions (including human hair)is extremely difficult and costly to maintain. The effort was only partially successful. Maintenance of the site, to which over one million people a year visit, is an on-going and perpetual process. The extreme shifts in weather, including harsh winters, also make long-term preservation difficult.
The newly obtained funds will help conserve two brick barrack blocks and another six similar wooden buildings. The Museum hopes to create a 100-million euro (US$129-million-dollar) fund to better maintain the two camp sites. The Polish state-run museum now has an annual budget of around 5.5 million euros, half of which is covered by the Polish government and most of the rest from visitors' fees.
According to the AFP article:
Between three to five percent of the annual budget is also covered by the Lauder Foundation and Germany's regional governments.
Last year it recorded 1.13 million visitors, 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.