Angela Merkel donates €60m from Germany to Auschwitz-Birkenau

German chancellor Angela Merkel has visited Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum for the first time. To help preserve the site of the former German Nazi concentration and extermination camp, Merkel brings a €60 million donation from Germany.

The €60m donation to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation is in addition to the €60m donated by Germany when the fund launched 10 years ago. This brings the total to €120m.

According to Reuters, half of the donation comes from Germany’s federal government and the other half from the regional governments.

“I am very happy that we could agree that the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial will get additional money,” said Angela Merkel. “It is a good message that I take with me to Poland tomorrow.”

Germany gives €120m in total to Auschwitz-Birkenau

This is Merkel’s first visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau in her 14 years as leader, as part of an event for the 10th anniversary of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation.

Merkel was joined on her visit by Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki. On its official Twitter account, Auschwitz-Birkenau shared images of the pair walking through the ‘Arbeit macht frei’ gate and at the museum.

“Auschwitz is a museum but is also the biggest cemetery in the world… (memory) is the key to building the present and future,” Dr Piotr M A Cywiński, director of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, told Reuters.

“Many of the buildings were not built to last long,” added Cywinski. He also said the foundation needs between 18 million to 20 million zlotys ($4.62m to $5.13m) to maintain conservation annually.

10th anniversary of Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation

“I want to show that these funds are created as a tool for the future, for the next generation, for education. It’s not a way to point the finger at a country’s history, because that’s not my role.”

Earlier this week, the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum announced record attendance for 2019, already exceeding record attendance in 2018.

Images: Twitter/Auschwitz-Birkenau