In the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, the Global Preservation Plan was officially launched which is the multi-annual programme of preservation work funded by the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation’s Perpetual Fund. The inauguration was attended by the Minister of Culture and National Heritage, Bogdan Zdrojewski. Among those present were also representatives of the countries that engage in the Foundation project.
Guests to the site became acquainted with the state of the conservation of the former German Nazi concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz II-Birkenau. They also saw a presentation of the priority tasks, from which will begin the implementation of comprehensive maintenance financed by the Foundation.
The Minister of Culture and National Heritage expressed appreciation for the measures to protect the Memorial Site for the future generations, mentioning, in particular, the Foundation, as well as, presevation work funded by the European Union. “Thank you, director. This gigantic sorrowful area has a host and it has an appropriate host with the entire team of employees. I am convinced that our determination, professionalism, commitment and empathy will serve us in the preservation works,” said the Minister. “This is a guarantee that the legacy of this sad material will continue to shout a warning,” he stressed.
Israeli Ambassador Zvi Rav-Ner pointed out that Auschwitz was "a German Nazi death factory", in which one and half million people were killed, including more than a million of its own nation. “The memory is important. There are so many voices in the world saying that there was no Auschwitz and the millions of victims. This initiative is a sacred mission,” he stressed.
“Today is a breakthrough for the preservation of authenticity of Auschwitz-Birkenau, which is of the extreme importance for the world. Created over three years, this globally unique financing tool for the preservation work is starting to bear its first fruit,” said Dr Piotr M.A. Cywinski, director of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, thanking all those who, at various stages, have been involved in the creation and development of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation.
Up to now, the creation of the Perpetual Fund has been joined by nearly 20 countries. The donations and declarations already amount to over 97 million euros. The profits from the first amounts, which were transmitted in the previous year, will enable the provision of at least 1.7 million PLN in 2012 for the start of the preservation works. The total annual funding will, however, grow with the development of the Fund. It is estimated that in 2013, the Foundation shall donate about 4 million PLN to the Museum. Ultimately, the Foundation should operate the sum of 120 million euros, which will allow for the transfer of approximately 15 million PLN per year. The overarching principle of investment in the Fund is "a security more important than profit".
The most important maintenance task in the near future will be securing and preparing a detailed programme of preservation works for all 45 brick barracks within the area of the former camp of Auschwitz II-Birkenau. Specialists will strengthen both the structure of the buildings, as well as minimise the risk of degradation associated with the high state of groundwater.
“The measures being undertaken now will be conducted on two levels. First will be the intervention maintenance, carried out where the condition of the buildings is the worst. At the same time, interdisciplinary research projects will be conducted, such as determining the cause of the damage, allowing for the selection of the most appropriate methods of conservation or development of entirely new methods. Here, the close co-operation of specialists representing various fields of science is extremely important: conservation, construction, chemistry, microbiology, hydrogeology or geodesy. In the future the results of these tests will enable to conduct this extensive work on very large-scale,” said Rafał Pióro, deputy director of the Museum.
At this time, the area under the protection of the Museum comprises approximately 20 hectares of the former Auschwitz I camp and 171 hectares of the former Auschwitz II-Birkenau camp. Within the area there are 155 buildings, around 300 ruins and vestiges of the former camp; especially important to the history of Auschwitz are the ruins of the gas chambers and crematoria. Also collections from the Museum, including a large number of personal items left by the murdered Jews, as well as archival documents and works of art by prisoners, are subjected to protection.