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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

More Conservation Required at Auschwitz Holocaust Site

OSWIECIM, Poland -- Auschwitz is disintegrating. Over 60 years of winter snow, summer drought and millions of visitors have taken a heavy toll on the former Nazi death camp.

Just as survivors visiting the camp dwindle each year, so time is bearing down on the prison buildings, the rusting barbed-wire fencing and remnants of the gas chambers left behind when the Germans fled in January 1945.

Evidence of the victims -- hair, spectacles, children's toys and other belongings -- is also falling to pieces, eaten away by insects and mildew, its disappearance giving slow support to those who deny the Holocaust ever happened.

Unless conservation is stepped up there may soon be little left of the biggest graveyard in Europe, where up to 1.5 million men, women and children, mostly Jews, were slaughtered. Now new management at the camp, which covers 190 hectares on two sites near Oswiecim in southern Poland, is accelerating work and hiring more staff to save the site as a lesson for future generations.

"If there is one place in the world that should be kept as a reminder of the consequences of racism and intolerance, it is this one," said Piotr Cywinski, the Auschwitz's director since September. "But it gets more difficult every year."

One of the problems facing Cywinski and his 260 staff at the site, now a museum, is that Auschwitz was not built to last. The concentration camp known as Auschwitz was actually two camps, and both are suffering serious problems.

Israel Gutman, a former Auschwitz prisoner and adviser to the Yad Vashem holocaust institute in Israel, is determined to preserve the camp as long as possible, whatever the cost. "There are still people who claim the Holocaust never took place," he said.