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Frankfurt Jews Push for Change of Building Where Ghetto Stood

The cultural department of the city of Frankfurt is trying to get the mayor to order last-minute changes for a new utility-service center, which hides the remains of the old ghetto and Jewish cemetery from public view.

The center, where gas and electricity bills will be issued, is scheduled to open soon on the former ghetto site.

When it was planned in 1987, the Jewish community and many non-Jews objected to the obliteration of the ghetto, a reminder of the Jewish life that flourished in Frankfurt before the Nazi era.

As protests grew, the town authorities promised to preserve the cemetery and integrate remnants of the ghetto into the new complex, including a small museum.

But according to Linda Reisch of the municipality’s Cultural Department, the preserved portions are not visible to people visiting the center.

She said architect Ernst Gisel had failed to follow the plan originally agreed upon, and thus, the remains of the ghetto, including a mikvah and the cemetery are blocked from view.

The windows of a building overlooking them were set too high, Reisch said.

The director of the service center, Jurgen Wann, observed, however, that visitors to the main hall can see the tops of the trees in the cemetery from the windows.

But Reisch reported Wednesday that Jewish community members were appalled when they visited the site and intend to raise the matter with Mayor Volker Hauff.

She has urged the mayor to initiate a competition among architects to correct the problem.

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