Meeting of the International Committee of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation
Representatives of the donor countries supporting the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation's Perpetual Fund met on October 28 in the Chancellery of the Prime Minister in Warsaw for the 6th session of the International Committee of the Foundation. The head of the Chancellery of the Prime Minister, minister Beata Kempa, as well as members of the Management Board and employees of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation also attended the meeting.
‘The accumulated fund of such international provenance is unique within the world of the monuments. But also the monument of which concern has gathered us here is unique. For this reason, such a broad answer of so many countries on the appeal of the Polish Republic is very edifying, that we try to cope with the destructive influence of time. Joining our efforts is extremely eloquent and represents great value,’ said minister Beata Kempa.
‘Today, in such a rapidly changing world: difficult, complex, often conflicted, there are some fundamental truths about man, which are still able to unite. The fact that among these truths there is the care for the remains of the former German Nazi concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau is for me a clear signal about completely fundamental importance of this site for the world,’ she stressed.
Inaugurating the session, the Council chairperson, Marek Zając stressed the symbolic significance of this international cooperation. ‘We cannot restore the lives of the victims of Auschwitz-Birkenau or those of the victims of genocide during World War II. However, we can still oppose the one intention of the perpetrators. The Holocaust was meant to be a total extermination. It was not just about the murdering of people, or the erasing of any trace of their existence, but also about the process of killing. We can still put a stop to this intention of the perpetrators, and we will stop it through our joint activities within the framework of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation. Therefore, I kindly ask you to give our gratitude to your governments, and above all its citizens,’ he said.
During the meeting, the members of the Committee were presented with a report on the substantive activities of the Foundation, as well as the financial statements and audits for the year 2015. ‘The basis for the Foundation's activities is full transparency of actions. Therefore, we attach such great importance to our annual meetings, during which we provide information on all aspects of the Foundation’s activities. The transparency of our work builds the credibility of the Foundation,’ said Dr. Piotr M. A. Cywiński, President of the Foundation.
The financial declarations currently amounts to about 113 million of the planned 120 million euros, while the accounts of the Foundation already indicates over 101 million euros. ‘In 2015, two countries joined the group of donors to the Foundation: Spain and Italy, while three countries decided to raise its contribution: Turkey, Ireland and Norway. In turn, individual donors have created 9 Pillars of Memory, each in the amount of million euro,’ said the Director General of the Foundation Anna Miszewska, summarizing the activities of the Foundation in the last period.
‘We are close to closing the Perpetual Fund in the amount of 120 million euros. This sum was estimated several years ago, in a much favourable economic climate, when it was actually possible to obtain about 5 percent return on investment. Today the conditions are different and perhaps in the future we will have to consider a new estimate for the sum of the Fund, so that we can in the future, in different financial realities fully carry out preservation works that serve to preserve the authenticity of the Auschwitz Memorial for future generations,’ said Piotr Cywiński.
During the meeting, the Deputy Director of the Museum and Vice President of the Foundation Rafał Pióro, as well as the head of the Master Plan for Preservation Anna Łopuska summed up the state of preservation works conducted in the Auschwitz Memorial financed by the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation. This year, the amount of support is estimated at 8 million Polish zloty.
‘This year we completed three projects: conservation research on section BI of the former Birkenau camp, preparatory work for the conservation of the brick barracks and a project for the wooden barracks, among others conservation of half of the barrack from Birkenau, which returned from loan from Washington few years ago,’ said Anna Łopuska.
‘Work is still ongoing on our biggest project - conservation of two brick barracks at Birkenau. The historic buildings have just been covered with special tent halls, and soon we will be able to proceed with the dismantling of the roof structure and the complex and pioneering process of straightening the walls of the barracks. We have, however, began work on securing the wall of the ruins of the undressing rooms of gas chamber and crematorium III in Auschwitz II-Birkenau, as well as the conservation project for selected documents, among others prison letters and authentic post-camp objects, i.a. 100 suitcases and 15 canisters of Zyklon B,’ added Łopuska.
‘Thanks to the conservation works conducted, we also know much more about the objects, the site of the former camp, and the victims of Auschwitz. This is because while we are constantly securing objects, we also find traces of specific people who were deported to the camp. It is very important, because we constantly get to know the history of this place through the fate of particular persons,’ stressed Rafał Pióro.
The 6th session of the International Committee was attended by new representatives of the donor countries: the ambassador of the Principality of Monaco Isabelle Berro Amadei, the ambassador of Canada Stephen de Boer, the ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands Ronald van Dartel, the representative of the United Kingdom Sir Eric Pickles, the ambassador of Turkey Tunc Ugdul, and the ambassador of Australia Paul Wojciechowski.