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Plans for Holocaust Memorial in Berlin Remain at an Impasse

April 17, 1997
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For the third time since January, some 100 people gathered to discuss the Holocaust memorial planned for Berlin.

And, for the third time since January, the politicians, scholars, government officials and others failed to reach a consensus.

The money for the project is in place, but plans for the memorial appear to remain at an impasse.

No agreement was reached last Friday on the exact location for the monument, whether it should be dedicated to just the Jewish victims of Nazi terror or even what it should look like.

A design initially adopted by the organizers called for putting a huge, black concrete plate on the site, on which all known names of the Jewish victims of the Nazis would be engraved.

But the idea of the plate, which critics said could be as big as a soccer field, was dropped after protests by German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and others, who called the project “megalomania.”

Earlier this year, the organizers said the memorial should be chosen from the other nine proposals that won awards in a design competition. One proposal calls for building a bus station at the memorial site, with tickets sold and services offered to take visitors to the various concentration and death camps in Europe.

Others have called for a new design competition.

“Let’s give the whole thing a new chance,” Vienna architect Gustav Peichl said at last Friday’s meeting. “We have to admit that the proposals put forward at the first competition failed to produce the desired results.”

A group of 21 Berlin architects and historians proposed creating temporary memorials because no agreement could be reached on a permanent one, but an awkward silence followed the suggestion.

Lea Rosh, the journalist who launched the idea of a central memorial, said, “Let’s stop debating and start with the work right away.”

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