House of last Jewish resident near Auschwitz faces demolition

A house once owned by the last Jewish resident of Oswiecim - the Polish city where the Nazis built the Auschwitz death camp - faces demolition if funds are not found for its renovation, the head of a local remembrance center said Tuesday. The two-story house in the city where more than half of the pre-World War II population was Jewish, has been vacant for eight years despite attempts by the Auschwitz Jewish Center to raise funds to turn it into a museum, said Tomasz Kuncewicz, who runs the center. "The technical state of the house is very bad ... and is unfortunately getting worse," Kuncewicz said, noting that repairs on the crumbling walls alone would cost hundreds of thousands of zlotys. Szymon Kluger, whose family owned the home, survived the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp and emigrated to Sweden after the war. He returned to Oswiecim in 1961 and lived there until his death in 2000. His family donated the house to the center, which would like to turn it into a museum showing a typical Jewish family home of the 1920s and 30s. If the building can't be saved, it will have to be torn down for safety reasons, Kuncewicz said, stressing the building has "historic and sentimental value." The Nazis killed more that 1 million people, mostly Jews, in Auschwitz-Birkenau between 1940 and 45.