Extreme Weather and Vandalism Threaten Crumbling Holocaust Sites

(NewsSpace.com) – There are few atrocities, if any, in history that could match what happened during the Holocaust. In total, the Nazi Germany regime murdered six million Jewish people, including men, women, and children. They also killed millions of other people, like gypsies and Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Many of the murders were carried out in gas chambers, while others were mass shootings. Visitors can still see the sites where the mass killings occurred, but the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) recently warned several of these are at risk.

Sites Still Standing at Risk

According to a January 23 press release, the IHRA revealed that the sites that still remain “are now approaching or surpassing 80 years old,” and as such, they “face unprecedented challenges.” The main issue is that none of them are “properly and entirely safeguarded.” Many have sustained damage due to a variety of factors, including neglect, decay, funding challenges, and inappropriate reuse. The alliance notes that one of the main sites, Auschwitz Birkenau, known simply to many as Auschwitz, is subject to vandalism and the effects of climate change.

To that effect, the IHRA adopted the Charter for Safeguarding Sites in November 2023. It has also made a list of sites that should be addressed. The hope is to preserve them and, thus, the memory of the tragic event that shaped history.

Some of the sites the alliance has earmarked for attention include:

  • Sachsenhausen concentration camp in Germany
  • Terezin Memorial in the Czech Republic
  • Gusen subcamp in Austria
  • Ustica subcamp in Croatia

These four locations have sustained damaging effects from floodwaters and severe weather over the past few years.

What’s the Plan?

The IHRA isn’t looking to restore the sites but rather to safeguard them against further damage. In order to do this, it wants to collect data on all of the Holocaust sites still standing and maintain inventory so that it can consult with outside groups on the best way to go about mitigating damages.

Preserving Genocide: A Controversial Topic

Preserving Holocaust sites is a topic that is hotly debated the world over. Some believe that it’s critical to retain this history to ensure it never happens again. Others say demolishing the sites could lead to a misinformation campaign, and with no proof to back up the real story, it could change the face of what people learn in the future.

There have been other documented genocides, and the communities affected by the trauma respond differently. For example, New Mexico’s Taos Pueblo continues to display the ruins of Mission San Geronimo but has no plans to restore them once they disintegrate. The IHRA is trying to prevent the total loss of Holocaust remembrances.

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