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Frankfurt opening of exhibition on German army results in arrests

BONN, April 13 (JTA) — Two people were arrested this week in Frankfurt after scuffles outside the opening of an exhibition on the crimes of Hitler’s army. The exhibit, which shows the involvement of the German army in the mass killing of Jews during World War II, has been shown in dozens of towns across Germany since it was launched two years ago in Hamburg. The exhibit gained attention three months ago, after right-wing politicians and neo-Nazis in Bavaria demonstrated against it, calling it biased and badly researched. On display are photographs and letters from soldiers that support the claim that the regular German army, as well as SS units, took part in massacres of Jews and other atrocities. On Sunday in Frankfurt, those protesting the exhibit and those demonstrating in support of it clashed, despite a police presence at the opening, which 700 people attended. Speakers at the opening ceremony in Frankfurt included Ignatz Bubis, the leader of the German Jewish community. Petra Roth, the city’s mayor, refused to attend. The location of the exhibit, the Paulskirche, was the meeting place of the first nationwide German Parliament. It symbolizes the quest to unify Germany under a democratic rule. Last Friday, the city of Frankfurt had banned a neo-Nazi demonstrations against the exhibit. Meanwhile, a notorious German neo-Nazi has been convicted in a Mannheim court of denying the Holocaust and other charges. Gunter Deckert, 57, a former leader of the extreme-right National Democratic Party, was sentenced to two years and three months in prison. He was also convicted of slander, inciting racial hatred and defaming the dead. He was convicted in connection with his appearances with other known Holocaust deniers at which he disputed the extermination of the Jews under Hitler. Deckert has previously served time on similar convictions.