Urn placed near German parliament contains ashes of Holocaust victims, group says


(JTA) — A German activist organization placed a large container near Germany’s parliament building that it says contains the ashes of victims of the Nazis.

The message of the art-activist collective Zentrum für Politische Schönheit, or Center for Political Beauty, is that the government should not work with the far right, the German news service Deutsche Welle reported.

The center said on its website that it created the installation to show that in Germany, “the legacy of the Holocaust is rendered void by political apathy, the rejection of refugees and cowardice.” The installation is also meant to remember the victims of the Holocaust, the organizers told Deutsche Welle.

The gray cylindrical column is partly illuminated from the inside with an orange light that allows viewers to see the soil sample.

The group said it spent two years digging up soil from 23 sites across Germany, and in Poland and Ukraine, including at the Auschwitz, Sobibor and Treblinka Nazi camps, where Nazis were active in the mass murder of Jews and others. Lab results found traces of human remains in over 70 percent of the 240 samples, the group said in a statement.

“At one of the horrific sites we found ashes and bone char a meter deep,” according to the group, Deutsche Welle reported. “This column contains the (drill) sample from this soil that has been preserved for all eternity.”

The Central Council of Jews in Germany and the International Auschwitz Committee condemned the urn and its contents.

Council President Josef Schuster told Deutsch Welle that his umbrella organization welcomes political protest against the far right, but called the installation “problematic because it violates Jewish religious law about not disturbing the dead.” He said that a rabbi should be consulted on handling the remains when the installation is dismantled.

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