Auschwitz Saga Continues Amid Reports of New Plans

The saga of the ill-fated shopping complex across from Auschwitz continues. In the latest development, the Polish developer of the area near the former Nazi death camp has said work would resume at the site unless the government made a decision to the contrary by the end of this week.

Earlier this month, Poland had ordered the police to stop the renewed construction of the controversial mini-mall, which was to house a supermarket, a home and garden center and a fast-food restaurant, among other businesses.

The developer, Janusz Marszalek, this week indicated that he might build something other than a shopping complex.

Both Polish and Jewish officials – as well as other communities around the world – have denounced the mini-mall project. Many see the building of a shopping complex on the site as an offense to the memory of the victims of Auschwitz.

During World War II, nearly 2 million people were murdered, 90 percent of them Jews, at the Auschwitz-Birkenau death complex.

The latest developments prompted renewed concern.

If Marszalek builds, “I am sure the police will stop him,” Kalman Sultanik, World Jewish Congress vice president, said in an telephone interview from Israel.

Sultanik is scheduled to attend the July 7-8 meeting of the Auschwitz Museum Council, the body charged with protecting the integrity of the Auschwitz grounds.

Sultanik said Marszalek’s original permit to build on the site was “revoked.”

The council, headed by former Polish Foreign Minister Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, who is an Auschwitz survivor himself, reportedly recommended recently that the guest facilities now on the museum grounds be moved to the site being developed.

Marszalek reportedly said the project had been modified to take this suggestion into account, but the details of his amended plans were unclear.

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