Open Israel Museum Financed by Million Dollar Gift from German Publisher Springer
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Open Israel Museum Financed by Million Dollar Gift from German Publisher Springer

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A library made possible by a million dollar gift from West German publisher Axel Springer was opened here today. Its construction was delayed by the June, 1967 Arab-Israeli war. The stone and glass structure contains an auditorium and will house the central library for archeology and fine arts if the Israel Museum which will eventually contain 100,000 volumes. A potential problem was averted at the outset when Mr. Springer said he had no intention of having the library named after him. Some objections were raised here to naming a Jerusalem edifice after a German and the publisher immediately cabled Mayor Teddy Kollek that he had never for a moment thought of it. Mr. Kollek, chairman of the museum’s board of governors, thanked Mr. Springer for his “dignified attitude” and “understanding.”

Mr. Springer, a millionaire publisher of German newspapers and other periodicals and a target of criticism by German leftists, made the donation for the building to Israeli Ambassador Asher Ben-Nathan in West Berlin in 1966 with Mayor Kollek present. Mr. Springer visited Israel that same year and was received in the municipality which was then 30 yards from the armistice line with Jordan. The proximity reminded the German guest that he had just completed a publishing house next to the wall dividing East and West Berlin. The library was founded in 1906 as the Bezalel Library of art and presently has 30,000 volumes dealing with art and archeology.

The Soviet Communist Party newspaper Pravda charged today that many Nazi war criminals in West Germany enjoy freedom and demanded that the Germans abolish the statute of limitations which would end all war crimes prosecutions if it goes into effect as scheduled at the end of this year.

The Pravda article appeared as an international conference on questions related to war crimes prosecution opened in Moscow. It was written by attorney general Roman Rudenko, the one-time chief of the Soviet prosecution at the Nuremberg war crimes trials. Mr. Rudenko wrote, “The nature of the grievous crimes of Nazism demands that not a single Hitlerite war criminal remain unpunished and makes inconceivable the statute of limitations on those crimes.” The Soviet Government has recently made available to West Germany microfilm documents relating to Nazi war criminals.

(In Brussels today, Ernest Glinne, a Socialist member of Parliament, said about 100,000 war crimes suspects would escape trial in West Germany if the statute of limitations look effect, and asked the Government for a statement on the matter. Foreign Minister Pierre Harmel said the Belgian government was watching “with great concern” how West German Federal authorities will treat the issue which is now under consideration by them.)

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