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Tuesday, June 22, 2004
Auschwitz to Undergo Preservation Work
troops liberate seemingly well fed women prisoners from
Auschwitz, Jan 1945.
WARSAW, Poland - THE ruins of gas chambers and crematoria at the former Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp complex will be preserved as a "warning" to future generations, a spokesman for the memorial site said Tuesday.
The gas chambers and crematoria at the Birkenau part of the camp (right) have been in ruins since the Nazis blew them up in an attempt to hide evidence of their crimes as the Soviet army advanced toward the end of World War II.
The gas chambers at Birkenau (image below shows revisionist researcher exploring beneath the collapsed roof slab) were built in 1942 as part of the Nazi drive to exterminate Europe's Jews. The Birkenau and Auschwitz camps are a little more than a mile apart. The conservation work, expected to start in the next few weeks, is being undertaken because "the ruins will disappear if nothing happens," said Jarek Mensfelt, spokesman for the Auschwitz memorial museum. "This is an attempt to keep it as it is now -- in ruins -- but not to let the ruins go," Mensfelt said. "It was meant to be here forever as a warning."
More than a million people, most of them Jewish, perished in gas chambers or died of starvation and disease at the Auschwitz-Birkenau complex between 1940 and 1945.
In another development, archeologists searching for Jewish religious relics at the site of a synagogue near the former Auschwitz camp have found a treasure trove of menorahs and candelabra lost since the Nazis burned down the building in 1939, officials said Tuesday. The objects, found Monday, included candelabra decorated with symbolic eagles of Poland and the former Austro-Hungarian Empire, which controlled the area until World War I, said Tomasz Kuncewicz, director of the Auschwitz Jewish Center.
Kuncewicz said he believed members of the Jewish community hid them in haste to keep them from falling into Nazi hands. "These discoveries remind us that before the Nazis built Auschwitz, there was a thriving Jewish town of Oswiecim," said Julius Berman, chairman of the group that funded the excavation. Auschwitz is the German name for the Polish town Oswiecim.
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