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Memorial Plaque Again Rejected

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The City Council of Paderborn (North Rhine-Westphalia), controlled by the conservative Christian Democratic opposition party (CDU) has for the second time in the past year rejected proposals for a plaque memorializing the 2000 people killed by the Nazis in a nearby concentration camp between 1941-43.

The Council justified its decision on the grounds that the local population “did not need” such reminders. Instead it decided to publish a brochure describing the camp’s history. The camp was situated near the 800-year-old castle Wewelsburg. Its inmates were engaged in renovating the castle for eventual use as an SS center and as a residence for Heinrich Himmler. Many were hanged, shot or tortured to death.

In 1964, a memorial plaque provided by the Association of Nazi Victims was placed in the inner courtyard of the castle. But in 1973, the CDU removed the plaque on grounds that it was “historically inaccurate” because the prisoners did not die in the castle but in the camp below.

Some critics said the CDU did not want local and foreign visitors to the Wewelsburg–now a youth hostel and museum–to be reminded of the killings. A spokesman for the opposition Social Democratic Party (SPD) described the latest decision as a “disgrace,” saying it was taken by people who “on the other hand are always eager to cherish war memorials.”

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