Fundraising Goal Achieved for Restoration of Children’s Shoes from Auschwitz
International March of the Living proudly announces achieving fundraising goal of its “From Soul to Sole” campaign for the conservation of 8,000 shoes of Jewish children, mainly Jewish, murdered in Auschwitz-Birkenau.
International March of the Living, one of the world’s preeminent Holocaust Education organizations dedicated to safeguarding the memory of the Holocaust, in partnership with the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation and the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, announced the successful accomplishment of their global “Soul to Sole” fundraising campaign. The joint initiative funded the preservation of 8,000 shoes belonging to children murdered in Auschwitz-Birkenau, where over 1.1 million victims perished, including over 200,000 children, mostly Jewish, but also Roma, Polish and others.
With the passage of time, these shoes have sadly deteriorated, threatening the last testament of the children who were deported to the camp and murdered there by Nazi Germany.
The project will take place at the Conservation Laboratories at the Auschwitz Memorial. The conservation of a single shoe costs around US $50, and the cost of the whole preservation project was an estimated US $500,000. In September 2022, in keeping with its year-round global Holocaust educational activities, International March of the Living launched its Soul to Sole crowdfunding campaign, so that as many people as possible could take an active part in preserving the memory of the Holocaust.
International March of the Living President Phyllis Greenberg Heideman and Chair, Dr. Shmuel Rosenman stated today:
“We want to thank each person who made a donation for the conservation of the children’s shoes. Together we will ensure that not only will the memory of the children will be preserved, but also the historical evidence of Nazi German crimes that took place during the Holocaust.”
Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum Director Dr. Piotr Cywiński stated:
״This project of the preservation of the children’s shoes is certainly very emotional and historically extremely important. I am happy that we will start this with the help of the International March of the Living״.
The initial contribution was donated by Eitan Neishlos – founder and President of the Neishlos Foundation. He said:
“I am so happy and moved that this historic project is happening. The shoes are a symbol of a life lost and every shoe represents a story that is the whole world. I am proud to be a partner with the International March of the Living in this important project, and as the grandson of a Holocaust survivor I will continue to do everything to make sure that the memory of the Holocaust will stay alive.”
In addition, Mati Kochavi, creator of the “Eva’s Story” project, announced his support of the Sole to Soul campaign. (Eva’s Story is an innovative memorial project that brings to life the diary of Eva Heiman, a 13-year-old Jewish girl who lived during the Holocaust, in the first Instagram movie of its kind.) Kochavi announced this week that he and his family were honored to donate to the campaign as a tribute to the children who lost their lives during the Shoah. He said:
“The heart aches at the sight of the shoes of the two-year-old child who was proud of his first shoes; the mischievous four-year-old who climbs on the slippery slide; and the 10-year-old boy who kept his shoes for a football match. And we are left only with the great sadness of the Shoah and honored to participate in the preservation of the shoes of innocent children who perished.”
Holocaust survivor, Naftali Furst, who was 12 years old during the Death March from Auschwitz-Birkenau, survived in part because of the shoes he was wearing at the time. He said:
“I have tears of joy. I want to thank all the people who read the letter and answered our call with donations. When I stood facing the mountain of shoes at Auschwitz, which held the crumbling shoes, I thought about my family who was murdered there and about all the innocent children who were murdered with such cruelty during the Holocaust, and how we must preserve their memory for eternity.”