International Auschwitz Council chairman Professor Władysław Bartoszewski has signed a notarized document establishing the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation, intended to amass a Perpetual Fund to cover the conservation of the original camp buildings, grounds, and ruins, and to preserve and securely maintain the archival holdings and other authentic objects.
The Foundation was set up according to the wishes of the International Auschwitz Council as a response to the financial difficulties of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum. The revenues and endowment of the Perpetual Fund will provide for the operation of the Foundation; the Fund will generate the means necessary for a long-term conservation program. Ensuring the preservation of the original Auschwitz remains will require a Perpetual Fund of approximately 120 million euro.
"A stable source of money would allow the Museum, for the first time in its history, to plan for the long-term conservation of its almost 200 hectares of grounds and the 155 buildings and 300 ruins there, as well as the archival resources and collections," said Museum Director Piotr M.A. Cywiński."The amounts needed for conservation are enormous. I hope that we will manage to see the day when the annual dividend from the Fund reaches 3 to 5 million euro. This will be a guarantee for us that financial considerations never stand in the way of the conservation and preservation of the Memorial. We are doing everything in our power to make sure that, twenty or thirty years from now, the Auschwitz site will continue to be accessible and comprehensible for visitors."
The Museum Preservation Department will establish the conservation priorities under the strict supervision of the international Auschwitz Council. The Foundation Council will oversee the management of the Fund and the dividend. The Council and the Management Board will be nominated in the coming days, which will make it possible to register the Foundation in the Polish courts and formally begin operations.
"The highest priority tasks that must be carried out in the coming years include the conservation of the brick and wooden barracks that are in the worst condition, of the remains of the wooden barracks at the Auschwitz II-Birkenau camp, and of the eleven blocks at the Auschwitz I site that will house the new main Museum exhibition. The building at Auschwitz I that housed the camp kitchen must be conserved and adapted for the exhibition of camp art," said Preservation Department head Rafał Pióro, "and the building known as the 'Old Theater' must be adapted as the headquarters for the International Center for Education about Auschwitz and the Holocaust.
To date, the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum has been maintained mostly through appropriations from the Polish state budget and its own revenues. In 2008, aid from abroad amounted to about 5% of the Museum budget. "The favorable reaction to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation from both the Polish government and officials in other countries allows us to look hopefully towards the future," said Director Cywiński.