In a speech today, July 3, at the Schindler Factory Museum in Krakow, Poland, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced the U.S. intention to contribute $15 million over five years to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation, subject to Congressional authorization and appropriations. The World War II-era factory of Oskar Schindler, the German entrepreneur who saved hundreds of Jewish factory workers from the Holocaust and, Krakow, the closest major city to the camp and an important center of Jewish life before WWII, provide a meaningful setting for the U.S. announcement. The Secretary’s announcement of the anticipated U.S. contribution illustrates the significance of the Auschwitz-Birkenau site, helps commemorate the 1.1 million victims who perished there, and demonstrates America’s commitment to Holocaust education, remembrance, and research.
*Subject to Congressional authorization and appropriations, the United States’ contribution of $15 million over five years will begin in FY 2012.
*The U.S. contribution will help fund a €120 million endowment to preserve and safeguard the remains of the camp. Due to the temporary nature of the camp’s initial construction, the buildings and other artifacts at Auschwitz-Birkenau are in poor condition and in serious danger of irreversible deterioration.
*The United States strongly encourages other nations who have not already done so to follow suit and to contribute to the Auschwitz-Birkenau fund to preserve the site for future generations.
Importance of Auschwitz-Birkenau
*The Auschwitz-Birkenau death and concentration camp is one of the most widely recognized symbols of racism, bigotry, and hatred where untold millions suffered unthinkable and heinous treatment under Nazi tyranny. While there are hundreds of other historically important camps and mass grave sites, Auschwitz-Birkenau has become a symbol of the Holocaust.
*In 2009 alone, more than 1.3 million people from around the world visited the museum and memorial, among them survivors of Nazi persecution and their descendents, students, educators, and many who only for the first time learned of the horrors that went on at this infamous camp.
*The preservation and continuation of Auschwitz-Birkenau is essential so that future generations can visit and understand how the world can never again allow a place of such hatred and persecution to exist. It is also an important educational tool to show those who doubt that the Holocaust ever existed that indeed, tragically, it did.
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