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U.S. pledges $15 million to Auschwitz preservation

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The United States pledged $15 million to preserve the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp memorial.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced the five-year pledge Saturday during a visit to Poland.

The pledge, subject to congressional approval, "illustrates the significance of the Auschwitz-Birkenau site, helps commemorate the 1.1 million victims who perished there, and demonstrates America’s commitment to Holocaust education, remembrance and research," a State Department statement said.

The money will help fund a more than $150 million endowment aimed at preserving the site, which has fallen into disrepair.

"The United States strongly encourages other nations who have not already done so to follow suit and to contribute to the Auschwitz-Birkenau fund to preserve the site for future generations," the statement said. "The preservation and continuation of Auschwitz-Birkenau is essential so that future generations can visit and understand how the world can never again allow a place of such hatred and persecution to exist. It is also an important educational tool to show those who doubt that the Holocaust ever existed that indeed, tragically, it did."

More than 1 million people visit the site each year to commemorate the Holocaust.

Clinton, who is in Poland to sign a missile defense pact, made the announcement at the Schindler Factory Museum in Krakow. The museum is dedicated to Oskar Schindler, the German entrepreneur who saved 1,300 Jews during the war.

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