The Foundation has raised €108 of its €120 million euros (US $140m of approximately US $156m) campaign goal with help from six leading philanthropists and their families. They will be recognized at the 70th anniversary ceremonies of the liberation of the Nazi German concentration and extermination camp on January 27. The “18 Pillars Campaign” seeks to complete a perpetual endowment for the preservation of all authentic remains, buildings, ruins, artifacts, documents and artworks at the Auschwitz Memorial.
The following have contributed each one million Euro:
• Melinda Goldrich and Andrea Goldrich Cayton and the Goldrich Family Foundation, founded by their father, Jona Goldrich, Holocaust survivor, and real estate developer
• Elly Kleinman, a healthcare industry executive and founder of the Kleinman Family Holocaust Education Center, committed to retelling the Orthodox Jewish experience during the Holocaust
• Ronald S. Lauder, former US Ambassador to Austria; President of the World Jewish Congress
• Frank Lowy, Founder of the Westfield Group, an Australian-based, world leader in shopping mall ownership and management and a Holocaust survivor who lost many members of his family at Auschwitz
• Lily Safra and the Edmond J. Safra Foundation. Safra chairs the Edmond J. Safra Foundation, founded by her late husband. It is a leader in the support of medical research and health care, education, religion, humanitarianism, and culture
• Steven Spielberg’s Righteous Persons Foundation, which supports efforts that help new generations engage with Jewish life in ways that are relevant, meaningful, and inspire people to help build a more just world
“Auschwitz, the Nazi German concentration and extermination camp, is a symbol of the Holocaust, and a witness to the horrible atrocities of the World War II,” said Jacek Kastelaniec, Director General of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation. “It is also a one-of-a kind educational facility where young people may learn about the terrible outcomes of anti-Semitism, racism and hatred. The Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation’s sole purpose is to make sure that the authenticity of this unique Memorial will survive so next generations will be able to understand what the words ‘never again’ mean,” finished Mr. Kastelaniec.
The first six benefactors, known as “Pillars” of the 18 Pillars of Remembrance campaign, cited different reasons for giving.
“Auschwitz is a stark reminder to people of what can happen when the world remains silent in the face of evil,” said Lauder. “Twenty-five years ago, when I visited Auschwitz for the first time, I was stunned to see that every part of the former camp was disintegrating. That is why I spearheaded an international campaign to raise millions of dollars for the preservation of not just the barracks of Birkenau but also the mountains of shoes, suitcases, eyeglasses and other personal items stolen by the Nazis from the victims of Auschwitz-Birkenau on their arrival there. Now, after a monumental effort, it has been restored and preserved for future generations. This is of utmost importance in an age of Holocaust deniers and of growing anti-Semitism.”
“I know from personal experience what a powerful tool that a visit to Auschwitz can be for preserving the memory of the Holocaust and educating future generations,” said Safra. “It is essential, therefore, that the physical site be conserved, and it is our privilege to support this effort as part of our wide range of Holocaust education programs around the world.”
Elly Kleinman whose mother survived Auschwitz and whose four grandparents were killed there dedicated his “Pillar” to commemorate the memory of members of the Orthodox community who were killed during the Holocaust.
"The vibrant Orthodox community of pre-Holocaust Europe was decimated but not destroyed. They never surrendered and the survivors were determined to rebuild. We want to make sure that future generations know the story of where the religious Jewish community in Europe originated, what they went through, how they rebuilt, and how they maintained their faith and traditions,” said Elly Kleinman. “We are grateful for the opportunity to partner with the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation and State Museum to ensure that story will be told now.”
“As family members of a survivor, we realize the importance of ‘Never Forget’; donating a pillar is important to preserve proof of the Holocaust,” said Melinda Goldrich, representing the Goldrich-Cayton family, “Also, it is important for future generations to understand and witness the horrors so they are not to be repeated.”
Preserving the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum
The Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation was established in 2009 to create a perpetual fund that will finance conservation work and the preservation of all artifacts at the site of the former Nazi German concentration and extermination camp. As a result, future generations will experience Auschwitz-Birkenau as authentically as possible.
To date, the Foundation has secured 102 million Euros (US $136m) from 34 countries and 6 million Euros (US $9m) from 6 individual donors. It now seeks to identify another 12 benefactors willing to contribute the remaining 12 million euros that will enable it to reach its target.
“The contributions of these generous benefactors gives a strong support to the mission of Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial,” said Kastelaniec. “We are very close to making sure that future generations will be able to experience this place and its authenticity for next decades.”
The Museum preserves the sites of two camps the Nazi Germans erected during World War II in occupied Poland -- Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II-Birkenau. More than 1.5 million people from around the world visited the Auschwitz Memorial in 2014. The Museum is funded by the Polish government and its own income.
The perpetual fund will be used to fund ongoing preservation activities in perpetuity. These activities will build on existing preservation laboratories that have been funded by Lauder several years ago.
The Fund’s goal was calculated to generate proceeds that will allow museum experts to apply the newest and best technologies of conservation and preservation to artifacts that would otherwise erode over time. The Fund is overseen by the independent Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation. This enables the preservation activities to continue regardless of changes in the economy or political climate that might occur. Securing the commitments of 18 additional individuals through the 18 Pillars Campaign also ensures the engagement of individuals, not just governments, in the future of Auschwitz-Birkenau.
The 70th Anniversary Commemoration
The Foundation will recognize the 18 Pillars and 35 countries that helped establish the perpetual fund during the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau on January 27.
The event is expected to be the last anniversary with a large number of survivors present. Host of the ceremony, Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, expects many heads of state to be among the guests. This event will also provide an opportunity to raise awareness about the Foundation’s work on a global scale, to ensure that the memory of the Shoah will not perish, and that the Museum will be serving future generations as a place of remembrance and education.