LONDON (AP) — London Mayor Sadiq Khan pledged 300,000 pounds ($390,000) to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation in Poland on Monday, arguing that the institution plays a vital role in educating Londoners visiting the site on the horrors of the Holocaust.
London joins Paris and dozens of nations in giving money to preserve the site and the remains of the Nazi German death camp. Some 1.1 million people, mostly European Jews, died there during World War II.
“As the years pass, and as we have fewer survivors to pass on their stories, it is vital that we work even harder to preserve the site and ensure younger generations learn the lessons from history,'' Khan said.
“These lessons are all the more significant as we see anti-Semitism and hate crime on the rise.
Khan plans to attend celebrations of the 75th anniversary of the camp's liberation later this month.
Germany made a donation of 60 million euros ($66 million) when Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Auschwitz for the first time in December, bringing their total donation over the past decade to 120 million euros.
The money will go to a fund to conserve the physical remnants of the site — the barracks, watchtowers and personal items like shoes and suitcases of those killed.
The objects provide evidence of German atrocities and serve as one of the world’s most recognizable symbols of humanity’s capacity for evil. But they also are deteriorating under the strain of time and mass tourism, prompting a long-term conservation effort.
The United States, Poland and dozens of other countries have also made donations. Some of the foundation's 180 million euro fund-raising goal is being met by private donors.