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Posted Sunday, September 13, 1998


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Associated Press
September 9, 1998

U.S. Jewish Group Urges Germany to Build Holocaust Memorial

BERLIN (AP) -- A U.S. Jewish group urged the German government on Wednesday to build a national Holocaust memorial, suggesting that canceling the controversial project could send a negative message about Germany's willingness to confront its Nazi past.

Bruce Raber, president of the Washington, D.C.-based American Jewish Committee, said Germany should not underestimate the symbolic importance of the memorial project.

"We would be surprised and more than disappointed if a decision was made not to build the monument," said Raber, whose group has an office in Berlin.

The project, first proposed in 1988, has been repeatedly delayed by debate over what it should look like, who should be remembered and where it should be built. Some also question whether the killing of 6 million Jews can ever be expressed through art, and have proposed instead that more be done to preserve Germany's decaying concentration camps or to support research.


German politicians agreed three weeks ago to postpone a decision on the project until after national elections Sept. 27, fearful that the sensitive issue would become central to the campaign.

While Chancellor Helmut Kohl has pushed for the project, his rival, Gerhard Schroeder, has questioned the wisdom of building the memorial.

Raber called for the new government to decide on the memorial immediately after the election. He applauded the postponement, calling the memorial "too important" and the "historical consequences far too great" for it to become entangled in partisan politics.

The private group that launched the memorial project, led by TV journalist Lea Rosh,[1] made a similar appeal in a Berlin press conference Wednesday. Rosh also reiterated demands that the memorial be built on a site designated by Kohl, near the Brandenburg Gate in central Berlin.

Kohl favors a design for the memorial by U.S. architect Peter Eisenman -- a labyrinth of 2,700 pillars resembling a cemetery. The design was one of four finalists from a competition organized by Rosh's group. []

© Associated Press 1998

  Note by AR-Online:

1. Rosh was born Edith Rosh, but changed her first name to Lea to pass herself off as Jewish (she is not), deeming this an important step toward accelerating her career through the upper echelons of Norddeutscher Rundfunk television. She is (or was) the mistress of German historian and document forger Professor Eberhard Jäckel.

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