Jewish leaders threaten toboycott Holocaust memorial
11 May 2005, BERLIN - German Jewish leaders expressed anger on Wednesday over plans by the chief organiser of Berlin's new Holocaust memorial to place a tooth taken from a Holocaust victim at the site.
11 May 2005
BERLIN - German Jewish leaders expressed anger on Wednesday over plans by the chief organiser of Berlin's new Holocaust memorial to place a tooth taken from a Holocaust victim at the site.
"(I am) not only surprised but also appalled," said Paul Spiegel, president of Germany's influential Central Council of Jews in comments to the Tagesspiegel newspaper.
Lea Rosh, a main backer of the Holocaust memorial during the decades of struggles to get it built, announced she would place the molar and a cloth Star of David inside one of the monument's 2,711 concrete pillars in a speech at its opening ceremony on Tuesday.
Spiegel added: "I am outraged and find Lea Rosh's action irreverent."
The chairman of Berlin's Jewish community, Albert Meyer, also expressed fury and warned of a possible Jewish boycott of the memorial.
"If this happens then we Jews will have to consider whether we can even set foot in this place," said Meyer.
Rosh defended her decision in comments to Deutsche Presse-Agentur and insisted she planned to go ahead with installing the tooth from a Holocaust victim at the Belzec concentration camp in the concrete pillar.
"We have to learn to deal with our history," said Rosh, stressing she had been given approval for the move by the memorial's designer, Peter Eisenman, who is Jewish.
Spiegel strongly criticised the Holocaust memorial in a speech at its opening ceremony for failing to confront the issue of German guilt and for being too abstract.
"The Memorial for the Murdered Jews of Europe honours the victims of Nazism - but it does not refer directly to the perpetrators," said Spiegel at the ceremony attended by Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.
Spiegel said the memorial's undulating concrete blocks, covering a site the size of three football fields, failed to ask the question "Why?" and spared viewers any "confrontation on questions of guilt and responsibility."
Instead, he complained, it merely showed the Jews "as a nation of victims poured in 2,711 concrete pillars."
The memorial is the German federal government's official site for remembering the murder of six million Jews under the Nazi Third Reich.
Subject: German news