Death camp museum closed over money worries

By Jennifer Lipman, June 2, 2011
The entrance to the Sobibor site

The entrance to the Sobibor site

The museum at the Nazi death camp where convicted war criminal John Demjanjuk was a guard during the Holocaust has been closed because of a lack of funding.

Around 20,000 people visit the site of Sobibor death camp in eastern Poland every year to pay tribute to the 250,000 Jews and non-Jews who were murdered there.

But according to German press agency dpa, the museum is no longer being allocated sufficient money by the regional government to stay open to the public.

Museum officials said they needed £220 million to run tours and maintain the necessary staff. But they said they had only been allocated £93,000 this year.

Marek Bem, a Sobibor museum spokesman, said: "Without money, the museum cannot function."

Elan Steinberg, vice-president of the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants, said he was aghast at the news. "The demands of history and our obligation to the education of future generations must be respected so that this solemn place remain open.

"Whatever the price of memory, the cost of forgetfulness is so much greater."

Last updated: 9:21am, June 3 2011