Sunday 17 December 2017

Auschwitz museum: Visitors may be turned away due to huge spike in interest

Barbaric: Auschwitz concentration camp
Barbaric: Auschwitz concentration camp
A picture taken just after the liberation by the Soviet army of Aufschwitz in January 1945 shows a group of children wearing concentration camp uniforms

Kashmira Gander

The Auschwitz-Birenkau State Museum, which was once a Nazi death camp, is warning that the number of visitors is reaching such heights that people may soon be turned away.

A 40 per cent spike in visitors in the first three months of 2015, when compared with last year, has led officials to urge people to book online before they arrive at the site in Poland, to avoid being sent away.

Some 250,000 extra visitors have walked through the iron gates of Auschwitz this year, after a record-breaking 1.5 million people chose to educate themselves about the Holocaust at the museum last year.

The growth in interest has led to long queues at certain hours, said Andrzej Kacorzyk, a deputy director of the museum.

At the start of the year, nearly 300 now-elderly Auschwitz survivors and world leaders gathered at the site to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the camp’s liberation.

Auschwitz was among the most notorious of the Nazi extermination camps. Millions of Jews, political opponents, prisoners of war, homosexuals and members of the Roma community were enslaved and murdered at the facilities.

Earlier this week, former Nazi SS guard Oskar Gröning admitted that he was "morally complicit" in the crimes against humanity committed during the Holocaust at Auschwitz. His trial continues.

One survivor, Roman Kent, told world leaders at the event in January to remember the atrocities and fight for tolerance.

"We do not want our past to be our children's future," he said to applause.

Independent News Service

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