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Saturday, March 6, 1999 Published at 21:22 GMT

World: Europe

Auschwitz death camp protest

More than one million Jews died in the camps

Hundreds of people have marched between the former Nazi death camps Auschwitz and Birkenau in Poland to protest against plans to establish no-development zones around the sites.

The demonstrators said they had no anti-semitic motives but were afraid of losing their jobs and even their homes.

Carrying candles and national flags, they sang a Polish peasant song which spoke of their determination not to leave their land.

The BBC's James Coomarasamy: The marchers stressed they were not anti-semitic
Some of the older marchers said they remembered being evicted by the invading Nazi forces and that they did not want to repeat the experience.

The Polish Government agreed to establish a protective zone around the former death camps following an outcry over the planned construction of a supermarket adjacent to the Auschwitz site.

Solemn character

More than 1.5 million people, mostly Jews, were murdered in the camps during the Second World War and Jewish communities around the world want the place to retain its solemn character.

[ image: Plans for a mini-mall sparked outrage]
Plans for a mini-mall sparked outrage
But residents of nearby cities fear the 100-metre (330-foot) wide zones would drive away investors and jobs.

And they say hundreds of families would be forced from their homes if a protective zone was established around both camps, which are about 3 kilometres (2 miles) apart.

The protest organisers included Janusz Marszalek, the developer whose plans to build a mini-mall across from the Auschwitz museum sparked the demands for the protective zones.

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