The Holocaust and Auschwitz is Big Business
Would you take a vacation or take an excursion to visit the renowned Auschwitz extermination camp where over one million were gassed and suffered horrible abuse? Would you enjoy seeing the artifacts like the branding tools the Nazis used to imprint ID numbers on everyone who found home there? Visit the gas chambers? See the photos of carloads of bodies rotting and bones of those who met their fate? The piles of jewelry and clothes from those stripped before being gassed in fake shower room?
Truly, millions do. The Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camps in southern Poland are indeed historical and now falling apart. Built on marshy ground and near rivers, 70 years later, many places are now off limits due to decay. And while history must be remembered in order for it not to be repeated, isn't it rather morbid to want to save the buildings that murdered so many? Some advocate Poland should raze Auschwitz and simply have a park monument with artifacts as a memorial.
Every year, nearly two million visit this place where Satan resided. While the entrance is free, most have a guided tour lasting up to two hours (although, to really see this huge complex, it takes a good 4-6 hrs.).Tours cost between $30-40, or 20 pounds. Some places, like the where the crematorium is, can take 30 minutes of wait to get in (this is about as bad as waiting for a ride in a Disney Park). And like all "amusement" parks, you can buy souvenirs.
About 50% of the money Auschwitz earns comes from visitors. Now, the park is in desperate need of money to rebuild the death camp. The Auschwitz foundation has so far collected from various countries a total of $100 million for restoration which occurs every 15 years. The USA contributed $15 million, $37 million from Germany, $12 million from Poland, while only $1 million from Israel. The Auschwitz Foundation is hoping to have $150 million to fund the project. The "park" memorial is nearly 50 acres of grounds, 155 buildings and 300 ruins, including of the gas chambers and crematoria. The preservation staff numbers only 48. Birkenau, a satellite camp about two miles away, sprawls over more than 400 acres.
Visitors leave the "park" deeply moved because they see the two tons of hair piled up and still with color. On a peak day, 30,000 visit the camp to see where it all happened. However, 75% of the original buildings are gone or are in very bad shape. Since the park first opened in 1947, people have come for the right reasons but some because they are so young or not impacted at all, have a hard time believing what happened there on such a scale and it becomes a "theme park" of sorts, with no rides. A curiosity of the unimaginable that leaves a horrid impression.
Even if most of the buildings are now rebuilt, the monument must be sustained.