Poland says it will reopen Nazi death-camp museum

Government announces museum's reopening a day after closing due to lack of funds; Poland to step in as of January 2012.

June 5, 2011 02:50
1 minute read.
Accused Nazi death camp guard John Demjanjuk

John Demjanjuk 311 (R). (photo credit: REUTERS/Lukas Barth/Pool)

The Polish government on Friday announced it would reopen a museum at the former Nazi extermination camp of Sobibor, which closed the day before for lack of funding.

Museum spokesman Mark Bem announced the museum, which relied on funding from philanthropists and local government, had shuttered because it could not pay annual costs of $361,000.

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“The Sobibor site was closed until further notice as of June 1, as the current budget does not allow for its operation,” museum spokesman Marek Bem was quoted as saying by the Polish PAP news agency on Thursday.

Word of the closure of the museum at Sobibor – which was recently in the news, after John Demjanjuk was convicted of assisting in the murder of thousands of Jews when he was a guard at the camp – provoked an international outcry.

“Holocaust survivors were relieved to learn that Polish authorities have reversed course, and have agreed to reopen the Sobibor museum.

Its closure was a moral taint, and unworthy of Poland which itself suffered so grievously under the Nazi yolk,” Vice President of the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and Their Descendants, Elan Steinberg, said.

“We trust that such precipitous closures will not occur again. The demands of memory have prevailed on this occasion, and they should not fall to shortsighted concerns in the future,” he continued.

The Polish government said it would step in, beginning in January 2012, to make the museum a branch of the relatively nearby museum at Majdanek, a former concentration camp.

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