Auschwitz site welcomes visitors again after four months of closure

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The closure of the Auschwitz museum prompted the site of the former Nazi concentration camp to appeal for donations. On Wednesday, it reopened to the public.

The Auschwitz-Birkenau museum reopened to the public on Wednesday July 1 after nearly four months of closure due to the pandemic, which had prompted the site to seek financial aid when its daily sources of income had dried up. Located on the site of the former Nazi death camp, the site normally attracts more than two million visitors a year. The closure this year was unprecedented.

“We have reopened, but with several preventive health measures for visitors, namely visits in small groups, respect for distances, the mandatory mask inside and hand sanitizer”, museum spokesman Bartosz Bartyzel told AFP. According to him, around 1000 visitors, Polish and foreign, had booked their visit to the museum’s website for Wednesday.

“Future reservations depend a lot on the evolution of the pandemic, the situation is still uncertain”, added Bartosz Bartyzel. Poland reopened its borders with most of its European Union partners on June 13, after introducing containment measures relatively early in March. The Polish Ministry of Culture provided support funds to the museum in June when the site, deprived of ticket sales revenues, was left without resources, he said.

Last month, Germany doubled its financial contribution to an international fund for the maintenance of this former largest Nazi extermination camp, to 120 million euros. Between 1940 and the beginning of 1945, the Nazis exterminated around 1.1 million people in Auschwitz-Birkenau, including one million Jews from different European countries. The camp, where some 80,000 non-Jewish Poles, 25,000 Roma and 20,000 Soviet soldiers also died, was liberated by the Red Army in January 1945.

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