Over twenty million PLN for the development of the Visitor Service Centre
The significant financial support will help to develop the infrastructure for providing services to visitors to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial. The agreement between the Museum and the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial Foundation for the transfer of $5.5 million for the project was signed in New York by the director of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, Piotr M. A. Cywiński, and the donors: Ronald S. Lauder and Joel Citron - on behalf of himself and his wife, Ulrika. The funds will enable the implementation of one of the complementary projects to the new Visitor Service Centre.
While signing the agreement regarding financial support for the Museum, Piotr M. A. Cywiński emphasised: - The project of the new Visitor Service Centre is an undertaking befitting the XXI century. The new infrastructure will include a new car park and a new entrance to the Museum, as well as a new exhibition space, cinema and hostel for the needs of education, conferences and volunteer work. Such ambitious investments would not have been possible without the help of private donors - people who entirely and responsibly feel that memory has a great role to play.
The Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial Foundation is an American charity organisation whose activities are committed to the protection of the Memorial Site. The sum of $5 million was donated by Ronald S. Lauder, who has been a donor and supporter of the Memorial for several decades. - Preserving Auschwitz-Birkenau has been one of my greatest priorities since I first walked through the ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’ gate 40 years ago. Back in the 1980s, I saw how much there is still to be done to maintain it since the end of the War and I knew that within a short time, there would be nothing left for future generations to see. If there was nothing left to see, people would never believe what really happened there – said Ronald S. Lauder. – The only way we can prevent another Shoah is through education, and ensuring that as many people as possible bear witness to this terrible place where the worst atrocities known to mankind occurred. The new visitor center will be an integral part of this experience and it will enable visitors to enter Auschwitz-Birkenau in an understanding frame of mind - added Ronald S. Lauder.
Joel Citron and his wife Ulrika, who were previously donors of the Memorial, donated half a million dollars. Joel Citron, a member of the board of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial Foundation, stated: - This is being done so that we may speak loudly to honor those who perished and those who survived. This is being done so that we speak clearly today and in the future. This is being done so that we stand up firmly against antisemitism and bigotry.
Currently, the Museum is implementing many large and important investments such as the Master Plan for Preservation, the new main exhibition, the new headquarters of the International Centre for Education about Auschwitz and the Holocaust, or the project to change the Polish exhibition. The nearly five-fold increase in the number of people who want to learn about the history of the German Nazi concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz over the last dozen or so years also necessitates a change in the reception and service of visitors. Consequently, a tender procedure is now ongoing for a part of the project of a new Visitor Service Centre, which is being developed thanks to EU funding and support from the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage. The creation of a new space for the staff and a reception desk in the immediate vicinity of the Museum will be feasible in the next few years.