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No mercy for E German parliament

Former East German Palace of Republic in Berlin
Campaigners waged a long battle to save the palace

The old East German parliament building in Berlin is to be pulled down despite last-minute efforts to save it.

Demolition work on the Palace of the Republic, which opened in 1976, is to start next month.

The boxy modernist building with a bronze glass facade once housed parliament, restaurants and a theatre.

Opponents of demolition see it as a witness to East Berlin's communist history, but others complain that it is a graffiti-covered eyesore.

The palace has already been stripped down to its steel and concrete skeleton to remove dangerous asbestos from the site.

Members of the German parliament (Bundestag) voted 431 to 120 on Thursday against a last-ditch opposition appeal for the building.

The Bundestag had voted in 2002 to demolish the palace to make way for partial reconstruction of the Prussian "Stadtschloss", the ornate residence of the last Kaiser, Wilhelm II.

The debate over the palace has exposed continuing divisions in German society over the Cold War era, with some Germans still nostalgic for the old communist East Germany.

SEE ALSO
Berliners divided over fate of palace
10 Dec 05 |  From Our Own Correspondent
Germany marks 15 years of unity
03 Oct 05 |  Europe

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