1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Fresh Row Erupts Over Holocaust Memorial

DW staff (tkw)
May 12, 2005

The Holocaust memorial in Berlin officially opens to the public on Thursday, but the occasion is being overshadowed by a dispute over plans to set the tooth of a murdered Jew into one of the site's 2711 stone pillars.

Rosh said she wanted to make good on a promiseImage: dpa

During the formal inauguration ceremony in the German capital earlier this week, Lea Rosh announced her intention to have both the tooth of a Jew murdered at the Belzec concentration camp and a yellow "Jew" star placed in one of the memorial's concrete stelae.

She told the audience that she had been given the star by a woman in Amsterdam whose mother was killed in a Nazi death camp, and that in incorporating it into the memorial, she would be making good on a promise.

Paul Spiegel
Paul Spiegel, President of the Central Council of Jews in GermanyImage: dpa

But the President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Paul Spiegel, has sharply criticized Rosh's announcement.

In an interview with Berlin's Tagesspiegel newspaper, he said "I am outraged and I find Lea Rosh's behaviour impious." He added that he was surprised at the plan, which he said bordered on blasphemy.

Criticism rejected

Rosh responded to Spiegel's comments by saying that she had spoken to both the architect of the project, Peter Eisenman and to a Rabi about her intentions, but the Holocaust Memorial Foundation, which has not stated its position, says that Rosh has not yet requested permission to press ahead with her plans.

Freies Bildformat: Mahnmal in Berlin
Visitors can walk through the close-set pillarsImage: AP

The Chairman of Berlin's Jewish Community, Albert Meyer said the plans were not acceptable for Jews. "The memorial must not be allowed to become a cemetery or a shrine. And if this happens, we Jews will have to consider whether we can enter this place."

Paul Spiegel has already voiced his criticism of the memorial project, which he says doesn't go far enough. "By focusing on the Jews who were killed in WWII, the monument spares the viewer from confronting questions of guilt and responsibility," he said at the opening ceremony on Tuesday.

On those grounds, he added that the information center underneath the memorial site which documents the fate of Europe's Jews was an "indispensable addition."