Auschwitz asks Britain for help to preserve decaying death camp





The guard towers of Auschwitz are splintering, the barracks are waterlogged: the concentration camp where one million Jews were slaughtered is decaying so fast that conservationists have called on Britain to help to save it.

The theft last month of its distinctive, sinister sign, Arbeit macht frei (work sets you free) has underlined the vulnerability of the Nazi death camp, stretching over 20 hectares (50 acres) of southern Poland.

“Nobody could have imagined such a horrific act of vandalism,” Jacek Kastelaniec, director-general of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation, said. “Now try to imagine the public outcry if one of the barracks started to fall down, impossible to restore.”

Auschwitz was built on boggy ground between two rivers; as a result the high groundwater and bad drainage has rotted the foundations. Walls are blistering and starting to lean, roof frames are buckling, plasterwork and wall-paintings are flaking.

Mr Kastelaniec will go to the Cabinet Office tomorrow to press the Government on Gordon Brown’s promise to contribute to a €120million (£110million) endowment fund that will guarantee the preservation of one of the main sites of the Holocaust.




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