(AFP) – Jan 7, 2008
WARSAW (AFP) — A record 1.22 million people visited the former Nazi German Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in 2007, a spokesman for the museum in southern Poland said Monday.
"The majority of visitors are from abroad, mainly from Great Britain, the United States and Germany," museum spokesman Jaroslaw Mensfelt told AFP.
Last year, 755,000 foreigners visited the twin death camps, including 104,000 British citizens, 91,000 Americans and 60,000 Germans, he said.
"We've seen a distinct increase in the number of foreigners since Poland joined the European Union in 2004 and the start of budget flights to nearby Krakow at around the same time," Mensfelt said.
Last year, visitors from Asia including 38,000 South Koreans, 6,800 Japanese and 4,500 Chinese nationals also toured the site, an international symbol of the Holocaust.
With a total 456,000 visitors, Poles remained the most numerous national group to visit the site in 2007.
Founded in 1947 at the site of the Nazi-era death camp, the state-run Memorial and Museum at Auschwitz-Birkenau, in Oswiecim, received one million visitors in 2006 compared to half that number in 2001.
Historians estimate 1.1 million people died at the hands of Poland's German occupiers at Auschwitz-Birkenau between 1940-1945, either asphyxiated with Zyklon B gas in the notorious gas chambers or from starvation, disease or exhaustion.
Ninety percent of the victims were European Jews, most of whom perished in the gas chambers.
Auschwitz-Birkenau was one of six death camps, also including Chelmno, Treblinka, Sobibor, Majdanek and Belzec, created by Nazi Germany during World War II to kill Jews from across occupied Europe.
Poles, Roma and Soviet prisoners of war were among the other prisoners and victims at Auschwitz-Birkenau and similar death camps.
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