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Germany

Live 8 Organizers Lash out at Berlin Apathy

The German parliament and the city of Berlin brushed back charges Friday from the organizers of the German Live8 charity concert for Africa that they have failed to give sufficient backing to the event.

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Live8 hopes to surpass the success of Live Aid

Marek Lieberberg, the veteran event manager who is putting on the show in Berlin July 2, accused Mayor Klaus Wowereit, German authorities and industry of "stinginess, ignorance and Wilhelminian absurd bureaucracy" in an interview with the daily Süddeutsche Zeitung.

He said German companies "have not lifted a finger" to help sponsor the concert and that the Bundestag lower house of parliament had failed to make the Republic Square in front of its Reichstag building available for the event.

"As a German, I expect to be mortified in front of my organizational colleagues from the other participating countries," he said. "In England and the US politicians and big business have been enormously cooperative. Germany should be ashamed of itself."

"Bewildered" by criticism

180 Grad Gemälde vor dem Brandenburger Tor in Berlin

According to Lieberberg, the parliament's president, Wolfgang Thierse, refused to approve use of the Republic Square "in case it damaged the water sprinklers."

"What country are we living in?" Liberberg said. "Has our national depression finally got the better of us?"

But a spokesman for Thierse said that he had not been approached for assistance and said that a permit to use the square would have to come from local authorities.

The spokesman for the German capital's government, Michael Donnermeyer, said he was bewildered by the criticism and that authorities had done "everything in their power" to assure the show would go off well despite the short planning time.

Saint Bob continues to raise awareness

Lieberberg was approached five weeks ago by Irish pop star-turned aid activist Bob Geldof, who initiated the Live8 concerts, to be held the same day in cities including London, Philadelphia, Paris, Rome, Tokyo and Ottowa.

Geldof, who organized the massive Live Aid fund-raising charity concerts in 1985, hopes the latest event will raise awareness of African aid issues ahead of the G8 leaders' summit in Gleneagles, Scotland, starting four days later.

Wir sind Helden

International acts including Green Day, Roxy Music, Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys and a-ha and German stars such as Herbert Grönemeyer and Wir Sind Helden (photo) have signed on for the show in Berlin's city center, and some 100,000 visitors are expected.

No German sponsor

One week ahead of the event, Lieberberg also said that organizational support is not all that's missing in Germany.

"Unless a miracle happens, Germany will be the only country involved without a single national sponsor getting on board with so much as one cent," he complained.

Love Parade in Berlin Siegessäule

Berlin's now defunct Love Parade with the Siegessäule in the background

"We've met with nothing but rejections or silence from the 50 German companies and banks we wrote to," he said. "Given the global problem as well as the effect it will have on Germany's image, I find that unbelievable."

The concert is now scheduled to take place around Berlin's Siegessäule, or Victory Column, where the city's world famous and now defunct Love Parade converged until 2003.

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