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Last Updated: Monday, 27 October, 2003, 21:48 GMT
Nazi row over Holocaust memorial
Holocaust memorial slabs
Despite the row work on the memorial is continuing unabated
A German company has been banned from taking part in the construction of a national Holocaust memorial in Berlin, after a row over its connection with the Nazi death camps in which six million Jews were killed.

The company, Degussa AG, had been lined up to supply an anti-graffiti chemical to coat the 2,700 concrete slabs that make up the memorial.

However, a row broke because Degussa's parent company was Degesch, a company which supplied Zyklon B hydrogen cyanide gas pellets to the Nazi extermination camps.

The German trustees overseeing the building of the memorial have banned the use of the anti-graffiti coating and said that they will now search for a new supplier.

The issue is just too painful for the victims and relatives of victims and we have to respect that
Lea Rosh, Memorial campaigner

"We have decided to find a new product and, in talks with Degussa, to find a reasonable, fair exit from the contractual ties," Wolfgang Thierse, speaker of Germany's lower house of parliament and chairman of the memorial trustee group told Reuters.

Legacy of the past

Although Mr Thierse pointed out that Degussa "is no longer the firm it was 60 years ago", some of those involved with building the memorial found the company's close links to the gas used by the Nazis too distasteful to bear.

"The issue is just too painful for the victims and relatives of victims and we have to respect that," said Lea Rosh, who launched the campaign for the memorial.

Degussa has admitted its Nazi connections and was one of 16 companies that initiated to a compensation fund for victims of the regime.

Model of the Berlin Holocaust Memorial

The anti-graffiti treatment is regarded as a vital component of the memorial, being built between the Brandenburg Gate and bunker where Adolf Hitler committed suicide in 1945, as Jewish monuments and institutions in Germany are often sprayed with neo-Nazi graffiti.

Mr Thierse said there had been a fierce debate about the inclusion of Degussa in the construction plan as many German companies had links to the Nazis in the war era.

"Many other German firms which were in some way linked to Nazi crimes... determine our economic life and are involved in projects that remember the Nazi time. It's a question of where we draw the line," he said.

The memorial was designed by US architect Peter Eisenman and when completed it will cover a plot of land the size of two football pitches, giving the impression of a vast graveyard.

An information centre attached to the monument will be built underground, directly beneath it.

The monument should be completed by May 2005 - in time for the 60th anniversary of the end of the World War II.

Holocaust memorial takes shape
16 Aug 03  |  Europe
Berlin remembers Holocaust
27 Jan 00  |  Europe
Berlin's Jewish Museum opens
09 Sep 01  |  Europe

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