The Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation has been registered and has begun operations. On April 29 during a special conference held at the Chancellery of the Prime Minister, its founder, Władysław Bartoszewski, presented its structure and the persons to whom this work has been entrusted. The director of the Museum, Dr Piotr M.A. Cywiński, who is the President of the new Foundation Management Board also took part in the conference.
Speaking about the Nazis who before the end of the war planned to cover up the traces of their crimes, prof. Władysław Bartoszewski said: — We will save from forgetting, what they wanted to destroy. — We, the survivors, are in our last active years. In such a situation an idea came up, that we need to do something. That is why acknowledged European authorities, whose personal experiences are connected with that time, appealed to create a constant preservation tool for this place as well as for continuing educational and museum activities of Auschwitz Memorial — added Bartoszewski.
The Memorial is almost 200 hectares of grounds, 155 buildings, and 1,300 ruins, including the ruins of the gas chambers and crematoria, as well as over 100 thousand personal items that belonged to the people who were killed, other items, archival documents, and works of art by prisoners.
Speaking about the idea of creating the Fund, the Chairman of the Board of Directors as well as the Museum director Dr Piotr M.A. Cywiński said: — The time is coming for a global approach towards the preservation and protection of the site for future generations. All parts of the former camp should be preserved every 20 years. Such long-term cycles are beyond usual budgets, which are planned for much shorter periods. That is why the idea of the Fund came up.
Director Cywiński stressed that the realization of the project would not be possible without one of the most modern preservation laboratory and workshop in Europe which had been created few years before. — In my opinion this is a former camp site that has the highest degree of authenticity — said Cywiński.
The task of the Foundation will be to amass a sum of €120 million for the Perpetual Fund. The annual interest of €4-5 million will make it possible to plan and systematically carry out essential conservation work. Thus, for the first time in its history, the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial has a real chance of creating an ongoing, long-term conservation program that will make it possible to safeguard the remains of the camp for future generations. Until now, the entire burden of maintaining this place has fallen on Poland, which will continue to finance the ongoing operation of the Museum.
The Polish government stands fully behind the Foundation. In a special letter addressed to the heads of European states, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk asked for concrete financial support for the project.The German government was the first to declare its backing, pledging €1 million immediately and indicating that it will appropriate significantly more next year, while also requesting the German federal states and German companies to help. The French and British governments have also officially expressed its desire to contribute to the Fund. Many other countries have responded favorably.
Answering questions, director Cywiński emphasized that it was difficult to talk about the exact sums of money, since not all countries had given their declarations yet. — We are awaiting their official answers. In June two important events will take place: the International Auschwitz Council meeting, which will be dedicated to the project of the Fund, as well as the EU summit in Prague, where this matter will be in the agenda as well — said Cywiński.
Representatives of the European Commission have examined the plans for the Perpetual Fund, and individual commissioners have promised to help. Members of the European Parliament from a wide range of countries have also declared their commitment and issued assurances that, after the upcoming elections, the Parliament will consider the issue of preserving the Memorial for future generations.
The reaction of private individuals and associations from all over the world has been especially encouraging. They are anxious about the state of preservation of Auschwitz and have declared their readiness to help. Individuals from France, Germany, the UK, Canada, the USA, and Israel have stepped forward. This is important because it shows that the public in various countries appreciates the importance of the mission of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.
The statutes provide for an International Committee to ensure that the functioning of the Foundation will be completely transparent to the public and to future donors. The members of the Committee will come from the countries whose governments contribute to the creation of the Perpetual Fund. The International Committee will have constant access to information about the work of the Foundation, and will assess the work of the Foundation and examine its plans at special sessions. No changes in its statutes will be possible without first informing the Committee.
The Foundation will be closely connected with the Museum both through its statutes and through the people who direct it. Piotr M. A. Cywiński, the Director of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, has been named president of the Council. Rafał Pióro, head of the Museum Preservation Department, is a vice president. Jacek Kastelaniec, responsible for raising funds for the ongoing statutory work of the Museum, will direct the Foundation on a day-to-day basis.
The core of the Perpetual Fund should be in place by the end of 2010, so that the first of the long-term preservation projects can begin a year later. This means that the preservation of the authenticity of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial could be under threat if the necessary funds are not raised by that time.The director general of the Board of Directors Jacek Kastepaniec hoped that within the next 3 years the first preservation work financed by the Fund would start.
See also the video footage
The Foundation's Council
Władysław Bartoszewski – former prisoner of Auschwitz Concentration Camp, co-founder of the Żegota Jewish Aid Council, chairman of the International Auschwitz Council and the Board for the Protection of the Memory of Combat and Martyrdom, Minister of Foreign Affairs on the Government of the Polish Republic (twice), Secretary of State in the Chancellery of the Chairman of the Council of Ministers, Plenipotentiary for International Dialogue.
Agnieszka Magdziak-Miszewska – former consul of the Polish Republic in New York, ambassador of the Polish Republic in Israel, member of the International Auschwitz Council.
Kalman Sultanik (USA) – former prisoner of Nazi concentration camps, deputy chairman of the World Jewish Congress and the United Israel Appeal, member of the International Auschwitz Council, chairman of the financial commission of the International Auschwitz Council.
Serge Klarsfeld (France) – historian, lawyer, deputy chairman of the Fondation pour la Mémoire de la Shoah (Foundation for the Memory of the Shoah), chairman of the Fils et Filles des Déportés Juifs de France (Sons and Daughters of the Deported Jews of France), member of the Board of Trustees of the International Center for Education about Auschwitz and the Holocaust at the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum -Birkenau.
Jürgen Rüttgers (Germany) – minister of education in the Helmut Kohl government from 1994-98, prime minister of the Land of North Rhine-Westphalia.
Archbishop Józef Życiński – Metropolitan of Lublin, theologian, philosopher, member of the Papal Culture Council.
Zbigniew Nosowski – former co-chairman and now deputy chairman of the Polish Council of Christians and Jews, editor-in-chief of Więź magazine, co-founder and chairman of the Social Committee for the Remembrance of the Jews of Otwock and Karczew.
Edward Kosakowski – Chairman of the Chair of the Conservation and Restoration of Wall Paintings at the Academy of Fine Arts in Cracow, member of the Board of Trustees of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.
Paweł Machcewicz – historian, professor at the Mikołaj Kopernik University in Toruń, lecturer at the Collegium Civitas, plenipotentiary of the Chairman of the Council of Ministers for the Museum of the Second World War in Gdańsk.
Piotr Kadlčik – chairman of the Union of Jewish Religious Communities in the Polish Republic, member of the board of the European Congress of Jews.
Henryk Flug (Israel) – former prisoner of the Nazi concentration camps, chairman of the Center of Organizations of Holocaust Survivors and the International Auschwitz Committee, member of
the International Auschwitz Council.
Eleonora Bergman – director of the Jewish Historical Institute, member of the Board of Trustees of the Museum of the History of the Polish Jews, member of the International Consultative Council creating the new main exhibition at the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.
Józef Wancer – banker, deputy chairman of Citibank of New York for 23 years, chairman of the board of the BPH bank.
Marek Zając – secretary of the International Auschwitz Council, lecturer at the Rev. Józef Tischner Higher European School.
The Board of Directors of the Foundation
Chairman – Piotr M. A. Cywiński – Director of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, earlier, the long-serving secretary of the International Auschwitz Council, chairman of the Warsaw Catholic Intelligentsia Club, Ph.D. in history.
Deputy Chairman – Rafał Pióro – head of the Preservation Department at the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, graduate in the conservation and restoration of works of art and the protection of cultural property at the Institute of Monument Studies and Conservation of the Mikołaj Kopernik University in Toruń, creator of the conservation workshops and laboratories at the Oświęcim Museum.
Deputy Chairman – Łukasz Rozdeiczer – senior lawyer at Clifford Chance, Adjunct Professor of law at the Georgetown University, lecturer at the London University (QMUL), graduate of Harvard Law School, Cambridge and the University of Warsaw.
Managing Director – Jacek Kastelaniec – responsible for fundraising for the statutory activity of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, graduate of the Department of Journalism and Political Science at the University of Warsaw and of the University of Montpellier.
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