Austria to pay €6mn for Auschwitz preservation

The Austrian government has decided to contribute millions of Euros to the preservation of a concentration camp memorial in Poland.The Social Democrats (SPÖ) and the People’s Party (ÖVP) announced yesterday (Tues) that the Republic of Austria will support maintenance and renovation activities at the grounds of former Nazi death camp Auschwitz.Up to three million people – among them members of the Jewish community in Europe, political opponents of Germany’s Third Reich regime and mentally or physically disabled people – died at the site between 1942 and 1944. Many of the victims but also camp wardens were Austrians.Around 120 million Euros are reportedly needed to preserve the site which features a museum. Germany will provide around half of the amount, while other countries are expected to contribute the rest. Around 700,000 visitors come to the memorial each year.The Auschwitz death camp was in the news in December 2009 when its famous “Arbeit macht frei” (Work makes you free) iron plate was stolen from the entrance. The sign was tracked down and repaired a few weeks later. Memorial site chiefs however decided to permanently replace it with a replica.