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Auschwitz draws record number of visitors

The former Nazi German concentration camp of Auschwitz attracted 1 million 534 thousand visitors in 2014.

The figure is an all-time record not only for Auschwitz, but for all European sites of remembrance.

The director of the Auschwitz Museum, Piotr Cywinski, has said that Auschwitz-Birkenau has become a symbol of the Holocaust and of the World War Two crime of genocide, a place which for present generations is a key to understanding the realities of today and the challenges facing the contemporary world.

According to Pawel Sawicki of the Auschwitz Museum Press Office, Poles constitute the most numerous national group among the visitors.

Yet, the number of Polish visitors fell from 610, 000 in 2011 to just under 400, 000 last year. The falling trend is attributed to recent changes in the school curriculum and the lack of a government programme of financing youth visits to remembrance sites.

There were 199, 000 visitors from Britain, 92, 000 from the United States, 84, 000 from Italy and 75, 000 from Germany.

Israelis, Spaniards, French, Czechs and South Koreans were next on the list of the most sizeable national groups.

Around 10, 000 people from around the world took part in various educational projects in Auschwitz. The site was also visited by several hundred journalists and 180 film crews from over 30 countries.

On 27 January, ceremonies marking the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the camp by the Soviet Army will bring together up to 300 of its former prisoners. The most sizeable group – numbering about 100 persons – will be of Polish inmates of the camp. Roughly the same number of people will come from around the world thanks to financial support from the World Jewish Congress. Former Auschwitz prisoners will also come as members of official state delegations.

And on Wednesday, 7 January, a group of Polish inmates of Auschwitz will take part in an audience with Pope Francis. They will present the Pontiff with the ‘Gift of Remembrance’ Statuette of the International Auschwitz Committee. Members of the Polish group will include the writer Zofia Posmysz, author of the novel The Passenger, which was made into a film and an opera.

The concentration camp of Auschwitz was founded in 1940. Some 1.1 million people, mostly European Jews, but also Poles, Soviet POWs, Roma and Sinti, as well as people of other nationalities perished in the camp. It was liberated by the Soviet Army on 27 January 1945.

January 5, 2015 - Posted by | Auschwitz | , , , , ,

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