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Berlin memorial to Roma WWII dead

Culture Minister Bernd Neumann (L) and Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit (R) attend the ground-breaking ceremony on 19 December 2008
Work on the memorial in Berlin will be completed in 2009

Work has begun in the German capital, Berlin, on a memorial to the hundreds of thousands of Roma, or Gypsies, killed by the Nazis in World War II.

It will feature a square well brimming with water and bearing an inscription of a poem about the Holocaust.

The leader of Germany's Roma community, Romani Rose, praised the government for "recognising its historical responsibility" to those persecuted.

Experts say between 220,000 and 500,000 Roma were killed during World War II.

The memorial in Tiergarten park, to the south of Berlin's parliament building, is scheduled to be completed in 2009.

Berlin already contains a memorial to the millions of Jews who were killed in the Holocaust and another to the thousands of homosexuals persecuted by the Nazis during the war.

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