Auschwitz / Birkenau is falling apart. Who should help?

Auschwitz / Birkenau is decaying and falling apart. Particularly Birkenau, sometimes called Auschwitz II. Auschwitz, was a former Polish military barracks made of brick and made to last. Birkenau was not made to last. Sections of both camps have been closed to the public, as they have become too dangerous and unstable. As time goes by, more and more of the camps will be closed to the public for safety and preservation reasons. Auschwitz / Birkenau needs more cash.

At the end of this BBC article, an important question is asked, who should pay? Poland has pledged to maintain the camps in perpetuity, but Poland is not a wealthy country. Many British citizens point out correctly that Germany is the reason that this camp ever came into existence, and indeed it has been giving support to the camp, but others point out the sins of the fathers should not fall all on the shoulders of the sons.

Antisemitism was never just a German phenomena, the article aptly states, and for this reason alone, preservation of these " horrific crime scenes" should forever as testament to what we are capable of as a species.

So who do you think maintain these and other holocaust sites? Do you agree that it is of vital importance to preserve and maintain sites like this? I am of the opinion that monuments and evidence of all such mass murders should be maintained and preserved. As a Catholic,and as a human being, it is important to me personally to recognize any wicked proclivities I have, accept and deal with them, pick up my cross and follow Christ. I cannot do that, unless I examine myself thoroughly. This should be done on all levels all the way up to a national, and human level, and on a national, world and human level, these takes the form of monuments, and museums, just like Auschwitz / Birkenau.

So, once again, do who you think maintain these and other holocaust sites? Do you agree that it is of vital importance to preserve and maintain sites like this?

While I think the sites should be protected in that they should not be built over or developed for other uses, I also don’t think any money needs to be thrown at the structures to preserve them. I would rather they be sealed off for safety reasons and left to the elements. Tours can be limited to outside a cordoned area. After the weakened structures have collapsed, the debris can be carted away, the strong ruins left standing and interpretive signs installed.

I’m not advocating forgetting history, but I have no problems having these sites continue to exist in a state of ruin, much like the ancient archaeological digs. They remain witness to the events that transpired there, but also in what feel is an apt state: decayed.


They should provide a bank account for this action and those who wish to participate we will.

What? Do you want to get them back in operation? Only half kidding.

I think those sites should be destroyed, buried and paved over. What horrible places! Why keep them when we now have video libraries to remember the atrocities, libraries everyone can access, not just those to travel to those sites. Why pour more money into them? They are temples of evil.

There are Holocaust museums completely independent of those sites. Spend the money on those museums, so more people can visit that terrible history. Or better still, why not use the money to help stamp out anti-Semitism and injustice NOW? ISIS is carrying on the work of the Nazis. Let’s work on that.


Simply set up a nonprofit fund or a “Gofundme” and let those who wish to see the places be preserved, contribute funds for that purpose. I am sure some will have an interest in preserving history as a memorial or so that future generations can see it or so that scholars can study it, etc. I am equally sure many would like to see it just disappear for whatever reason, so they can just not contribute.

I don’t see why a current government should be forced to pay to constantly maintain a memorial of their mistake. Countries, like people, need to be allowed to move on from their sins. The vast majority of Germans living now had nothing to do with this, as they weren’t even born.

Or, could the sites be redeemed by repurposing them for a humanitarian cause (hospice, homeless shelter, soup kitchen), but erect a statue or some kind of marker to honor the victims?

I thought some parts of the camp were reconstructed by the Soviets. If so I’m not sure how historical they are. Trying to preserve some parts of the camp as is may be trying to preserve the Soviet reconstruction.

Let them fall to dust. I doubt any would be dictator would be deterred from their horrific aims by these sites and people utterly desperate enough to follow them won’t be either.

I think the German people have been sufficiently shamed for these atrocities, particularly given that all the men and women directly responsible have been swallowed by the grave at this point.

Let them fade into history.

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How many here have even been to either of the places mentioned? I’ve been to both, and I can tell you that the experience of the camps themselves is far more striking, visceral, and sickening than any museum.

Second, how many are familiar with the German ethos on the issue? Germany is staunchly anti-nationalist to this day as a result of the 3rd Reich’s actions, and constantly maintains laws and a culture of remembrance and vigilance against any resurgence of eugenics, racial superiority, etc. Many of the Germans I know (living here in Germany) would probably be in favor of the relatively small investment in maintaining these camps as a memorial and a warning to future generations… after all, Germany maintains almost all of the work camps in their own country as well.

I will say this for my experience visiting Dachau, Auschwitz, and Birkenau: the sites are grave reminders of the potential for evil in all mankind, and I’m thankful I was able to visit them in person to truly understand the scale and evil calculus of the human destruction that occured. I’ll also say that until the holocaust is long forgotten, there’s no way to redeem the sites where as many as 1.5 million people were exterminated.



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Oh yes. That’s why they should be protected as sites and people should be allowed to visit them. We should not forget history. But we also should not exert more effort than what is due.

I have no interest in seeing the structures themselves propped up so that they remain in good condition. I’d say, abandon them to the elements and let the ravages of time take their course. If barricades are needed for safety reasons, then so be it. The ruins can still serve their purpose. Weaker stuff like wood can be allowed to rot and collapse and the debris carted away, but the crematoria, ovens, and cells that are made out of stronger material can remain standing. But don’t throw any money to repair the buildings.

In the same vein, do not bulldoze the area or demolish the structures, or build over them. They should be left as a memorial and witness of what happened there.

The memorials should remain, but left as they deserve to be left: as a ruin.

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Why/how is Auschwitz pertinent to the Catholic faith in any way, shape or form?

It isn’t.

The shoah is a blight on human history. It affects Catholics insofar as Catholics are also human beings.

But there are lights of Catholic holiness and grace connected to these sites. Saints Maximilian Kolbe and Edith Stein died there. That means their blood serves to consecrate the sites.

And on a probably less comfortable, possibly scandalous note to some, but edifying nonetheless for those whose hearts are open. The brutal, monstrous Commandant of Auschwitz, Rudolf Hoess, responsible for the Zyklon B gassings of his inmates, four days before his execution, asked for a Catholic priest, made a profession of faith, made his Confession, and was absolved. The next day, he received Holy Communion. It is said that he fell on his knees, sobbing over his realization of the enormity of his crimes. It is also said that part of what moved him to seek reconciliation was the kindness of his Polish jailers, who had suffered greatly under his command.

Because in the absence of any evidence to the contrary, and we don’t know a person’s heart, AND because the principles of charity always demand we adopt the more positive interpretation, we have little reason to doubt the sincerity of Hoess’ repentance and the fact that when he was hanged, this Nazi-SS commandant of Auschwitz died in God’s grace. He may face Purgatory till the end of time, but in all likelihood, he is heaven-bound.

It is pertinent to something else. Something that
has replaced the Catholic faith in the public discourse altogether. Catholic concepts and definitions have been replaced piece by piece, slowly but surely. (While at the same time, the Catholic faith is ridiculed, mocked, assaulted every single time.)

Take a look at the list of replaced definitions, and see for yourself.

This is not only something else, but antithetical, i. e. satanic.

The same group that is promoting this fake religion is the same group that attacks the Catholic faith.

I have never been, but I have friends who have. I could not agree more that they should be saved. I also agree they are depressing even horrible places. Yes we have pictures but nothing compares to the real thing, and that is what I hear not just from you, but from anyone who visits these places. It is one thing to look at a picture of a gas chamber and a room full of human hair and shoes, another to stand in it I imagine.

Maintaining these places gives teeth to the words, “never forget,” that would become lip-service without them. There have been death camps since these, and their are death camps even now. All the more reason for them to serve as a reminder. An otherwise decent group of people, the Germans, somehow went from normal citizens to complacent or in some cases active participants in the holocaust. We still need the bitter medicine reminders that it could and does happen again.

I certainly don’t think badly of those who disagree, but I do indeed disagree. We need the 911 memorial for example, to help us remember what happens when good people slip into denial about what can happen. . We can be happy joyous and free and still hold on to reminders that we have a dark side that left unchecked, can know no final depth that evil can descend to.

They must have lost their minds.

Wow. How about all the Catholic priests who were gassed when the Polish Bishops spoke out against the third reich? How about how the Vatican ran an underground to hide Jews? How about all the persecutions?

How about the violation of human dignity that was all over the German war machine? Catholics and Popes speak out all the time about such things, like Rawanda, genocides, and injustices around the world who face persecutions, not just Christians. I could go on all day about the connections.


Actually we need a Hiroshima and Nagasaki memorial that brings to life what the US did. Maybe a Dresden memorial as well.

St. Maximilian Kolbe died there. A group of prisoners were selected to be killed in revenge for a prisoner escaping the camp. The last man to be selected for the group cried out “No! My wife, my little children!” Fr. Kolbe stepped forward and volunteered to take the man’s place. He was put in the death cell with the rest of the group to die from starvation and dehydration. He helped all the other men in their passage to death. He was the last one left alive. The guards finally killed him with a shot to the arm. There is a memorial to him now in the punishment cell, put there by Pope JP II. I would post a picture of it, but photographs are not allowed so I could not take one when I visited. You can google to see it.

St. Edith Stein was killed at Birkenau.

Edited to add, a large number of Polish priests and other Polish Catholics were killed at this camp before the Nazis got around to bringing in the trains full of Jewish people. The Nazis basically got rid of all the Polish intelligentsia first. If you were a priest, politician, professor, or University student, you were toast. Your religion or lack thereof didn’t matter, and of course many Polish people were Catholic then as now. The Nazis were concerned about people fomenting unrest or working underground against them.


He’s my confirmation Saint… One of the great saints of the last century

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