The inaugural “Soul to Sole” fundraiser target to save 8,000 pairs of shoes belonging to Jewish children who died at Auschwitz-Birkenau was met, according to the International March of the Living.
The Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation and the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in Poland are working with the organization on this project. At the concentration camp and death camps, the Nazis murdered more than 1.1 million people, including more than 200,000 Jewish children.
A statement stated that the shoes’ sad degeneration with time “threatens the last testament of the Jewish children who were taken to the camp and murdered there by Nazi Germany.”
The restoration of one shoe costs around $50, and the campaign’s goal was to raise $500,000 for that purpose.
The two-year conservation process will start soon, according to Revital Yakin Krakovsky, deputy CEO of March of the Living, who spoke to JNS.
Eitan Neishlos, founder and president of an eponymous foundation, who contributed to the campaign, said of the shoes: “The shoes are a sign of a life gone, and every shoe reflects a story that is the whole globe.”
“I will keep doing everything to make sure that the memory of the Holocaust will remain alive,” said the grandson of a Holocaust survivor.
“The heart aches at the sight of the shoes of the 2-year-old child, who was proud of his first shoes; the mischievous 4-year-old, who climbs on the slippery slide; and the 10-year-old guy, who kept his shoes for a football match,” said supporter and project founder Mati Kochavi.
We are just left with the deep sorrow of the Shoah, and it is an honor to help preserve the shoes of the innocent children who died, the speaker continued.
Shoes are shown under glass at Auschwitz-Birkenau, but when exposed to the public at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, visitors are confronted by an overwhelming odor that heightens the impact of the artifacts.
The shoes in both exhibits have mostly turned black.