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December 28, 2013

Brick barracks at Auschwitz are crumbling — the USA has not given any $ for restoration

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , — furtherglory @ 12:44 pm

According to a news article, which you can read in full here, the USA has not made good on its promise to send $15 million to help with the $160 million restoration project at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

There are 45 brick barrack buildings at Auschwitz-Birkenau (the Auschwitz II camp) and 42 of them are currently closed to tourists because they are dangerously close to falling down.

Early morning photo of brick barracks, 2005 photo

Early morning photo of brick barracks, 2005 photo

There are now 1.5 million tourists who visit Auschwitz each year, and you have to get up pretty early in the morning to get a photo without hundreds of tourists in the picture.  I took the photo above, in 2005, from the top of the gate tower at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

This quote is from the news article:

Auschwitz-Birkenau, the Nazi death camp where 1.1 million Jews and other victims were murdered, was not built to last forever. But that’s exactly what the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation is charged with doing, and it is collecting $160 million from a group of 28 countries to make that possible.

Germany has pledged $80 million; Poland has committed $12 million; Israel has paid half of its $1 million pledge. The United States joined the group of countries in 2010, when then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said her department would give $15 million to the endowment.

But because of technicalities in the legislative budgeting process, none of that money has been sent to the foundation to date, making the United States the only country not to have made good on any part of its pledge.

Brick barracks at Auschwitz were built with no foundations

Brick barracks at Auschwitz were built with no foundations

The brick barrack buildings were built by Soviet POWs at Auschwitz-Birkenau.  The buildings were set upon bare ground with no foundations.  The bricks were taken from Polish houses which were torn down to make room for the camp, which covers 425 acres.

Brick buildings at Auschwitz-Birkenau are deteriorating

Women’s kitchen building on the right

Ruins of Krema II with the women's kitchen in the background

Ruins of Krema II with the women’s kitchen in the background

Krema II was one of the buildings at Auschwitz-Birkenau which housed a gas chamber and cremation ovens.  The building was only a stone’s throw from the women’s kitchen.  This was a very dangerous set-up because some of the Zyklon-B gas fumes could have wafted over to the women’s kitchen where food was being cooked.  How stupid was that!  What were they thinking?

Interior of brick barrack building

Interior of brick barrack building

Uneven floor in brick barrack building is a hazzard

Uneven floor in brick barrack building is a hazzard

In the interior of the brick barrack buildings, the floor was laid directly on the ground, not set into sand.  The floor is very uneven, making it dangerous for tourists to walk upon.

This quote is from the news article:

Were the U.S.’s $15 million contribution to fall through, the impact on the foundation could be disastrous, and the Polish embassy in Washington has been in touch with the State Department about the matter.

“We are fully aware of how complicated the appropriations process can be, but we still remain very hopeful,” Maciej Pisarski, deputy chief of mission at the Polish embassy told the Journal on Dec. 20. “This is a noncontroversial issue.”

Rabbi Andrew Baker, director of international Jewish affairs at American Jewish Committee, remembered the 2009 push to get the U.S. on board as not being particularly fraught.

“I don’t think it was a hard sell,” Baker, who served for a time on the International Auschwitz Council, said. “I think everyone recognized that it was the right thing to do.”

The consensus that Auschwitz must be preserved — as a reminder of the attempted genocide of the Jews of Europe, and as a refutation of those who would deny the facts of that Holocaust — extends far beyond Washington.

Note that the article mentions “the attempted genocide of the Jews of Europe.”  Attempted genocide? I thought that the Holocaust WAS a genocide.

The brick barrack buildings were built to house Soviet POWs, not to ATTEMPT the genocide of the Jews.  By letting the buildings fall down and rot away, this would help to “deny the facts of that Holocaust.”

My suggestion would be to charge admission to see Auschwitz.  Does Disneyland collect money from the U.S. government to pay for the upkeep of its buildings? Charging only one dollar for admission would bring in $1.5 million PER YEAR.

Update: Dec. 29, 2013:

After reading some of the comments on this blog post, I have come to the conclusion that the number 6 should be honored at Auschwitz by charging $6.00 admission to the famous death camp, or its equivalent in money used in other countries.  That would bring in enough money to rebuild the whole Auschwitz-Birkenau camp to its original condition, including the gas chambers.

Another change that should be made at Auschwitz:  Visitors should be arrested immediately if they laugh out loud. On my trip to Auschwitz in 2005, a young Jewish man was laughing at the famous photo of a woman and two children walking to the gas chamber. He tried to engage me in a conversation about the gas chambers, but I was horrified by his disrespect, and I refused to talk with him.