Germany is donating â‚¬60 million ($87 million) to a new endowment for Auschwitz-Birkenau to preserve barracks, gas chambers and other evidence of Nazi crimes at the former death camp.
The donation is half the amount experts believe is needed to preserve the camp.
The German pledge, announced Wednesday, came in response to appeals from the Polish government, which has borne most of the cost of preserving the remains of the camp that Nazi Germany set up in occupied Poland during World War II. Half of the â‚¬60 million will come from the German federal government and the other half from the German states.
"This is an expression of our historical responsibility," said German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle.
The money goes to the Perpetual Fund of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation, an endowment set up this year as a way to fund conservation projects. The aim is to preserve the sprawling site, which stands as a testimony of the atrocities inflicted on Jews, Gypsies, Polish political prisoners and others, and which today draws about 1 million visitors per year.
"This is all the more urgent a task because there are fewer and fewer former prisoners and eyewitnesses to the events of the times of the Second World War among us," said Piotr Cywinski, the director of the Auschwitz memorial site.
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