Page last updated at 10:10 GMT, Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Poles want EU help for Auschwitz

View of Auschwitz perimeter fence (file pic)
More than one million people visited Auschwitz last year

Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski has urged EU governments to contribute to a special fund to maintain the Auschwitz death camp memorial site.

The camp, where Nazi Germany murdered more than one million people - most of them Jews - now consists of decaying buildings, mostly in need of repair.

Poland wants international support for a 120m-euro (106m; $154m) foundation to preserve Auschwitz.

Mr Sikorski said it was "the last moment to act" to save the site.

"If the foundation receives 120m euros it could use six or seven million euros each year for the conservation of the camp," he told his EU counterparts on Monday.

"This is really the time to ensure that the last death camp still conserved is maintained for future generations."

He warned that "leaders of some countries, and even religious leaders, have recently questioned the very fact of the Holocaust, while the generation who remembers those tragic events is dying out".

Foreign help constitutes only 1-3% of the Auschwitz museum's annual $10m budget - barely enough to cover day-to-day operations, including paying the museum's 250 staff, let alone conservation work.

More than a million people visited the site last year, near Krakow in southern Poland.

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