9th session of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation Council
The Council of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation held its session on 19 June in Warsaw. The main objective of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation is to finance the conservation of the authentic remains of the former Nazi German concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. During the session, the members extended the term of office of Zbigniew Nosowski and Marek Zając, who was again elected as the Chairperson of the Council.
“So far, 36 states have contributed to the Endowment Fund managed by the Foundation. Furthermore, nine individual donors have each contributed 1 million euros to the Foundation as part of the campaign "18 Pillars of Memory" In total, the financial declarations amount to approx. 112 million of the planned 120 million euros. Currently, the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation’s asset exceeds 470 million zlotys and is one the largest in Poland and the Foundation’s activities is meticulously audited and fully transparent, which is extremely important for the international credibility of the project,” said the Marek Zając, chairman of the Council.
As emphasized by the president and co-founder of the Foundation Dr. Piotr M. A. Cywiński, the Foundation is close to accomplishing the assumed objective - 120 million Euros, and the project of seeking individual donors on the American continent brings great perspectives for the future. “Also of immense importance is that at the initiative of Ronald S. Lauder the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation Committee was created in New York, made up of the current donors to the Foundation. Thanks to its commitment and understanding of the Foundation’s mission, they will invite subsequent interested persons to the group. The Committee in the USA will help to build the Endowment Fund among individual and institutional donors,” said Piotr Cywiński. He further added that Ireland has increased its contribution to the Fund, and talks are ongoing with several countries as regards joining the project.
For five years the profits from the Endowment Fund have been used to finance preservation works at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial. “In 2016, the Foundation allocated 8 million zlotys to the conservation of the Memorial Site. The estimates for 2017 is approx. 11 million zlotys, which will be available to the Master Plan for Preservation at the Auschwitz Museum. So far, the Foundation has transferred about 15 million zlotys for conservation,” said Anna Miszewska, the Foundation general director.
Among the ongoing conservation projects financed by the Foundation, the largest and most important is the conservation of brick barracks 7 and 8 located in the BIb section of the former Birkenau camp. “Last year, a tent hall was erected, which allowed us to shelter and protect the barracks from external conditions during dismantling of the roof tiles. This allowed us to preserve the timber roof truss. We have also strengthened the foundations of the load-bearing wall, and in the near future will begin to straighten the walls of the barrack using a developed and tested method,” said Rafał Pióro, vice president of the Foundation’s Management Board and deputy director of the Auschwitz Museum responsible for conservation.
“We are currently preparing for the conservation of another four barracks in the BIb section: the bathhouse, the kitchen, one of the latrines and another prisoner's barrack. We have already concluded the design documentation. Based on the experience gained in the ongoing project by our conservation team, some of these projects may be executed by external companies, because we can very accurately demonstrate how to properly approach the conservation of these particular buildings,” said Rafał Pióro.
The funding by the Foundation has also provided for the implementation of conservation and protection of the northern wall of the changing room of gas chamber and crematorium III in Birkenau, conservation of two wooden barracks, modernization of the warehouse for textile objects from the Museum Collections, as well as conservation of tallits belonging to Victims of Auschwitz. In 2016, 1675 objects from the Archive and Collections were also subjected to conservation: 724 camp letters, 65 plans from the Zentralbauleitung (SS Central Building Office), 100 suitcases and 15 empty Zyklon B cans.
“As you can see, as part of the Master Plan for Preservation we strive to deal with as many diverse objects and all materials in order to successively develop modern conservation methods for all authentic remains of the former Auschwitz camp, which will also serve future generation of conservators,” said Rafał Pióro.
The members of the Council endorsed the substantive report on the Foundation’s work and the financial statements for 2016 during the meeting, as well as the annual action and financial plans. They also granted a vote of approval to members of the board for responsibilities undertaken the previous year. The results of the external audit for 2016 conducted by KPMG was presented, which for the subsequent time did not raise any objections in the financial statements presented by the Foundation.