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Eisenman to confront his critics

Published on 10/03/2004

10 March 2004

BERLIN – The architect of Berlin’s Holocaust memorial has agreed to confer in Berlin in coming weeks with German Jewish leaders over a “joking remarks” which have been branded as anti-Semitic, officials said Tuesday.

Architect Peter Eisenman will fly from New York to meet with Berlin Jewish officials on May 14, said Uwe Neumaerker, spokesman for the Holocaust memorial project following a phone call with Eisenman.

The move came after the president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Paul Spiegel, said he expects “Eisenman must apologize immediately and unequivocally to the former chairman of Berlin’s Jewish community, Alexander Brenner, and the Jewish community.”

“I absolutely do not understand why Eisenman has not done so in writing a long time ago.”

Spiegel added that he expected no personal consequences for Eisenman, who himself is Jewish.

The controversy erupted after comments Eisenman made at a meeting of the board of directors of the Holocaust memorial.

Several participants at the February meeting have described Eisenman as telling a story of visiting a dentist in New York and being asked whether the gold fillings in his teeth had come from Holocaust victims. Brenner, also a board member, was reported to have left the meeting in protest.

Eisenman, who designed the memorial, said he has already apologized in writing to Wolfgang Thierse, speaker of Germany’s Bundestag and chairman of the Berlin Holocaust memorial board.

Thierse confirmed the apology and said he had relayed it to the former and current chairmen of Berlin’s Jewish community.

But Brenner told a Berlin newspaper that the US-based architect should now question his own fitness to continue working on the project.

A second board member also told Berliner Morgenpost that any German architect would be unable to continue working on the Holocaust memorial after such an inappropriate statement.

Eisenman said demands for his resignation should be directed to Thierse.

The memorial was due to be opened in May 2005.

Subject: German news