What began as a last-minute visit to one of the most solemn places in history has grown into a nationwide campaign supported by many distinguished people and groups, including the Canadian and Polish ambassadors and the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs. Canadians Remember is a grassroots campaign relying on the goodwill of average Canadians to spread the word of the need for preservation and restoration at Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland. The former German Nazi concentration camp – where more than 1.1 million Jews, Roma, Sinti, Poles, Russians and other Europeans were systematically killed during the Second World War – is reaching out for support of its Perpetual Fund.
“Since visiting Auschwitz, we’ve learned that a remarkable number of connections to the camp exist in Canada,” said campaign director Rob Carter. “Many Canadian success stories began with the small number of people who survived the Holocaust.”
Funds raised by Canadians Remember will be presented to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation in 2015 to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the camp’s liberation. The foundation’s director, Piotr Cywinski, endorses the Canadian campaign and has pledged to install permanent recognition at Auschwitz, listing Canadians as a “Pillar of Remembrance” if the campaign can raise one million euro. All net funds raised go to the foundation’s Perpetual Fund, created in 2009 to enable the redevelopment of the museum and the preservation of the historic facility. In 2012, Canada’s federal government donated $400,000 to the fund. The Canadians Remember team hopes to raise $2.5 million, a figure in line with donations pledged by other countries, including Germany, France, Great Britain and the United States.
Each year, many more than one million visitors from around the world arrive at Auschwitz-Birkenau to view the museum and memorial. The remains of the concentration camp stand today as a cemetery and as evidence of the horrors of which humanity is capable. The site is also a warning to future generations about the realities of the Holocaust, genocide and prejudice.
In addition to Auschwitz survivors like George Brady (widely known from Hana’s Suitcase, the story of his sister), the campaign’s early supporters include Canada’s Ambassador to Poland Alexandra Bugailiskis and Polish Ambassador to Canada Marcin Bosacki. “We believe that Canadians of all walks of life will recognize the importance of this initiative not only for Auschwitz, but its relevance in today’s socio-political environment,” said Bosacki.
For only $1, donors can add a photo of themselves to the website’s donor wall. By encouraging Canadian citizens – of all ages, religious affiliations and cultural backgrounds – to donate just $1 each, the Canadian public can make a gesture of remembrance and support for Holocaust education. Canadiansremember.ca provides the details of the campaign, and accepts donations via PayPal.
– Courtesy of Canadians Remember