Conservation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau site (February 16, 2011)

In 2009, the Polish authorities set up a Foundation with a perpetual fund, with capital set at €120 million to generate sufficient interest (€4 to €5 million per year) to carry out conservation work on the site comprising the Auschwitz and Birkenau camps. The Polish authorities have called on the international community to contribute to this Fund. Germany has pledged a contribution of €60 million, representing half of the capital, and other countries have followed.

The Auschwitz-Birkenau site stands as a memorial and symbol of the Nazi extermination machine. The preservation of this vestige of the Holocaust calls for solidarity from all the Member States of the European Union in support of Europe’s common heritage. In this spirit, the Prime Minister wrote to the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, on 1 February 2010 to propose that the European Union, as such, contribute to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation by means of a special contribution from the Community budget. The Netherlands supported our action.

Following up on our initiative, the European Union decided in December 2010 to allocate €4 million in commitment appropriations from the 2011 budget to the conservation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau site (for the “promotion of European citizenship” and the “preservation of commemorative sites in Europe”).

The aim is to attain a total level of funding that will guarantee the conservation of the site for future generations. Such is the message conveyed by the French delegation of elected representatives, academics and intellectuals when it visited Auschwitz on 1 February 2011, with the French Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs represented by François Zimeray, Ambassador in charge of the International Dimension of the Holocaust, Spoliation and the Commemorative Duty.