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The German city of Dachau is seeking a new image — through a sister city in Israel.

Dachau Mayor Peter Bürgel told the “Welt am Sonntag” weekly newspaper on Sunday, “Of course the city of Dachau would like to have a partner city in Israel. But it must be organized with great sensitivity.”

Dachau is the site of one of the first concentration camps created under Hitler’s orders. Originally intended for political prisoners, the camp opened on March 22, 1933. By the time it was liberated by U.S. troops just over 12 years later, more than 43,000 of about 200,000 prisoners had died there. In 1965, a memorial opened at the site, on the initiative of survivors. Bürgel, a member of Bavaria’s conservative Christian Social Union Party who was elected mayor in March, said he wants to improve international contacts, particularly with Israel. With that in mind, Bürgel already has made contacts with the Israeli Embassy in Berlin and visited Israel recently with Karl Freller, president of the Foundation for Memorials in Bavaria, the Welt reported. The mayor said he wanted to get a sense of whether it was realistic to even think of such a partnership between Dachau and an Israeli city. He said it would take some time to plan. Meanwhile, Dachau already has two sister cities — Ort Fondi near Naples in Italy, and Klagenfurt, capital of the Austrian state of Carinthia, whose governor is the far-right politician Jörg Haider.

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