27 January 2011

Holocaust Memorial Day

Today has been designated by the United Nations as the International Holocaust Remembrance Day:

"Denying historical facts, especially on such an important subject as the Holocaust, is just not acceptable. Nor is it acceptable to call for the elimination of any State or people. I would like to see this fundamental principle respected both in rhetoric and in practice by all the members of the international community." --- United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Press Conference SG/2120, 14 December 2006

Recently we were contacted by a group, acting on behalf of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial Museum, that is trying to raise awareness of and funds for the preservation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp so that it could serve to remind future generations about the dangers of extremism:

January 27, 2010, Oświęcim, POLAND— On the 66th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in 1945, the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation announces its "Intervene Now!" campaign. “Intervene Now!” is an initiative to engage individuals, organizations and governments around the world to protect and preserve the authentic remains of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp and the memory of the victims and survivors of one of the most heinous crimes in our history.

After 66 years, the camp and grounds, along with thousands of invaluable historical objects, face accelerated irreversible deterioration and natural erosion. It is the mission of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation to create a Perpetual Capital Fund to finance long-term conservation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial Site to safeguard it for 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 Twentieth Century’s crimes actually occurred,” said Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, Chairman of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation Council and former prisoner of the camp. “By ensuring the preservation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial Site and maintaining the testimonies of the past, we are, in fact, taking care of the future.”

The Call to Action

“Intervene Now!” is a call for individuals around the world to become members of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation by pledging to preserve the physical evidence of the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp and raise awareness of the tragedy in order to prevent future acts of hatred and intolerance. Members are asked to take the “Intervene Now!” pledge in recognition of “what happened, what happens and what could happen again” and pass it along to friends and relatives with a piece of artwork or literature created by victims and survivors of Auschwitz.

The “Intervene Now!” website (www.facebook.com/AuschwitzInterveneNow) will provide art and literature from victims and survivors of the Holocaust, new and archived photographs of Auschwitz-Birkenau and educational resources that can be used in schools, community groups, religious organizations, etc.

The Preservation Plan

The long-term preservation plan was prepared by a team of professional conservation science specialists from the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum. The plan includes high-priority tasks such as preservation of deteriorated prisoner barracks and guard towers, including reinforcement of foundations and roofs and preservation of architectural landmarks like drawings, inscriptions and wall paintings. The plan also includes conservation of hundreds of thousands of moveable objects and documents that constitute evidence of the crimes committed at Auschwitz-Birkenau, including several thousand photographs and negatives, approximately 6 thousand works of art and hundreds of prayer garments.

The annual cost to develop and implement the long-term preservation plan for these buildings and objects is approximately €4 to €5 million. In order to achieve the required funding, the Foundation has dedicated itself to raising a Perpetual Capital Fund of €120 million, which will be invested to ensure the security and authenticity of the Memorial Site for years to come. To ensure the safe and professional investment of the resources allocated to the Perpetual Capital Fund, the Foundation’s Council has appointed a Financial Commission consisting of independent experts which, along with the Foundation’s Management Board, is in charge of the investment process.

Initial Support

The Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation has received strong official support from the Government of the Republic of Poland, the International Auschwitz Council, and the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, along with a number of other countries, organizations and individual donors. Since the establishment of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation, the governments of the Federal Republic of Germany, the Republic of Austria and the United States have declared that they will make significant donations the Perpetual Capital Fund amounting to more than €78 million.

World Holocaust Remembrance Day

In conjunction with World Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27th 2011, the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum will hold a ceremony to commemorate the 66th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Camps and to honor the victims and survivors living today. The ceremony will include a reading of the "Intervene Now!" pledge by a young volunteer from the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation.

“At this moment, when the last eyewitnesses are passing away, the preservation of Auschwitz is becoming a truly shared responsibility,” said Piotr M.A. Cywinski, Director of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum. “This place is necessary for all of us. This is where we can most fully understand the tragedy of a Europe plunged into war and mutual hatred. Here, too, the younger generations can best understand how much we must preserve the site in order for the future to be different.”

About the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation

The Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation was founded in January 2009 by Minister Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, a former prisoner of the Auschwitz Concentration Camp. The mission of the Foundation is to secure the conservation and the preservation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial Site for future generations by implementing a long-term comprehensive preservation plan.

Four separate bodies of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation (the Council, the International Committee, The Management Board, and the Financial Commission) ensure the transparency, efficiency, and accountability of their respective work. The Foundation’s Statutes regulate the structural and functional integrity of the process behind the creation and management of the Perpetual Capital Fund. Moreover, the Foundation has established a professional relationship with two renowned companies that advise it on legal matters, accounting and bookkeeping. The Foundation’s primary objective is to secure the safety of the Perpetual Capital fund and guarantee transparency with respect to the disposal of funds.

Some of our members have visited the camps in Poland and it remains one of the most moving moments in their lives. For that reason we would ask our readers to consider making a donation to help preserve this monument for future generations to learn from.

Hey, we're more than willing to shill for a good cause.

Anyone interested in learning more can go to the Facebook page set up by the Foundation or, if one wishes to make a donation, click on the image below:

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