Announcement

Government announces £2.1 million funding to Auschwitz-Birkenau foundation

Today Foreign Secretary William Hague and Communities Secretary Eric Pickles announced a £2.1 million Government contribution to the preservation…

Today Foreign Secretary William Hague and Communities Secretary Eric Pickles announced a £2.1 million Government contribution to the preservation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp to help ensure the lessons of Auschwitz live on for generations to come. The contribution is primarily funded by the Department for Communities and Local Government and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

The money will be used to ensure the long-term preservation and restoration of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp and its important place in educating people of the horrors of the Holocaust.

Speaking at the Jewish Museum in London, the Communities Secretary emphasised the significance of remembering the Holocaust and reiterated the Government’s commitment to working with all of Britain’s different communities to put an end to prejudice and hatred in all its forms.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said:

Auschwitz-Birkenau is an important place of remembrance. It is vital that we do not forget it. Just as we collect and preserve the stories of eyewitnesses, it is our collective responsibility to ensure that Auschwitz-Birkenau stands as a perpetual reminder of the pain and destructive force of hate. We must ensure that the lessons from the Holocaust are taught today and to future generations. Today I am proud to reaffirm the Government’s commitment to remembering the Holocaust.

The Foreign Secretary William Hague said:

I am determined that the Government should take an active approach to preserving the memory of the Holocaust. Auschwitz-Birkenau is a searing reminder of the horrific consequences of intolerance and hatred. It should never be forgotten. I am proud that the UK is able to play a part in commemorating the millions of victims who died there, educating future generations of the evils of that period in history and ensuring its preservation for many years to come.

Sir Andrew Burns, UK Envoy for post-Holocaust issues said:

Auschwitz-Birkenau is a symbol of the horrors of the Holocaust and a warning of what can happen when hatred is allowed to flourish. The number of visitors to the camp continues to grow, showing that it has become a place of reflection and commemoration for the whole world. There is a continued need for a place people can visit to learn about and understand what happened. The preservation of the camp will enable us to keep the memory of the Holocaust alive for future generations.

Lord Greville Janner of Braunstone, Chairman of the Holocaust Educational Trust, commented:

Auschwitz-Birkenau is the site of the largest mass murder in human history and an iconic symbol of the Holocaust. The Holocaust Educational Trust has urged the UK Government to provide financial support for the upkeep of the site and today’s commitment of £2.1 million sends a clear message that we have a responsibility to safeguard the future of the camp.

Through our Lessons from Auschwitz Project the Holocaust Educational Trust gives over 3,000 British students each year the opportunity to visit Auschwitz-Birkenau, this announcement will ensure that when young people visit Auschwitz, they will see for themselves what can happen when racism and prejudice is allowed to go unchecked.

Eric Pickles was joined today at the Jewish Museum by the Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks and the Polish Ambassador, Barbara Tuge-Erecinska. They were given a tour of the Museum and had the opportunity to listen in on a talk being given to local schoolchildren by Holocaust survivor Mala Tribich.

Notes to editors

1. The funding, delivered over the next three years, is a joint contribution primarily from the Department for Communities and Local Government and the Foreign and Commonwealth office.

2. The Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation hopes to establish a Perpetuity Fund of €120 million by 2015 to ensure the consolidation, restoration and long-term maintenance of the Auschwitz and Birkenau concentration camps. The Foundation’s proposal will ensure that further funding will not be sought for the preservation of the camps in the foreseeable future as the proceeds from the invested Perpetuity Fund will be used to fund on-going restoration works.

‘Arbeit macht frei’ photograph courtesy of www.en.auschwitz.org.pl (external link).

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