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The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs Applauds Canadian Grant to Preserve Auschwitz

by Rhonda Spivak, with files from the Government of Canada website


[this article relies on files from the Prime Minister of Canada's website: ]

On may 14, 2012 the Government of Canada announced a contribution of $400,000 to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation. The Foundation was established to repair and maintain the deteriorating death camp in Poland, where more than a million Jews were murdered during the Holocaust. The site  entered on the UNESCO World Heritage List attracts more than 1.5 million visitors each year.

Canada’s support for the Memorial Site will help with the conservation of the buildings, grounds, and the thousands of historical objects that are endangered by erosion and deterioration. The memorial is almost 200 hectares, and includes 155 buildings, 300 ruins, including those of the gas chambers and crematoria, and over 100,000 personal items that belonged to the people who were killed, archival documents, and works of art by prisoners. .

“We applaud Canada’s support for this effort, which will enable future generations to witness first-hand the horrors and lessons of the Holocaust,” said David Koschitzky, Chair of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs. “The Government’s contribution will ensure that this painful but important testament will speak for those whose voices were silenced.”

Hank Rosenbaum, co-President of the Canadian Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Descendants organization – the official voice of the Survivor community affiliated with the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs – commented: “Auschwitz-Birkenau serves as a stark reminder of the depths of evil the Jewish people, and indeed the entire world, faced in recent history. Today’s commitment is a tribute to the survivors who overcame these horrors, rebuilding their shattered lives and contributing so much to Canadian society in the years that followed.”

The Harper Government's announcement of the grant was made during the visit of Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk to Canada.

Canada’s support for the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial Site will come from Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada. The support is in response to a request by the Polish Prime Minister, who, in February 2009, asked the heads of over 40 states for concrete financial support for the project.

The Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation is a Polish non-governmental organization that seeks to preserve the former Nazi concentration and extermination camp by raising €120 million for the Perpetual Fund, whose sole purpose is to cover the conservation costs of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial Site. The Foundation was created in January 2009 by Professor Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, a former Auschwitz prisoner and current chairman of the Auschwitz Council.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper visited the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial Site in Poland in April 2008.

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.