(JTA) — In advance of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation said it has nearly reached its approximately $156 million campaign goal.
The total of $140 million includes $9 million in newly announced donations from six leading philanthropists, the foundation announced last week.
The campaign was created in 2009 by the independent foundation to fund a perpetual endowment to preserve the authentic remains, buildings, ruins, artifacts, documents and artworks at the Auschwitz Memorial, which includes the Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II-Birkenau Nazi camps.
Jacek Kastelaniec, director general of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation, calls Auschwitz a symbol of the Holocaust.
“It is also a one-of-a kind educational facility where young people may learn about the terrible outcomes of anti-Semitism, racism and hatred,” he said. “The Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation’s sole purpose is to make sure that the authenticity of this unique memorial will survive so next generations will be able to understand what the words ‘never again’ mean.”
More than 1.5 million people from around the world visited the memorial in 2014. The number of visitors has continued to rise over the last decade.
To date, 34 countries have donated $136 million, with the largest contribution from Germany, followed by the United States and Poland.
The private donors include Melinda Goldrich and Andrea Goldrich Cayton and the Goldrich Family Foundation; Elly Kleinman; Frank Lowy, a Holocaust survivor; Lily Safra and the Edmond J. Safra Foundation; Steven Spielberg’s Righteous Persons Foundation; and Ronald Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, whose prior funding modernized the memorial’s conservation laboratories.
Several hundred survivors are expected to attend the 70th anniversary commemoration on Jan. 27 along with donors and many heads of state. Auschwitz Memorial leaders say it is likely the last time that such a large number of survivors will be in attendance due to their advanced ages.