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German Jews Slam Camp Ceremony Date

April 28, 2005

German Jews on Thursday blasted a decision to hold the 60th anniversary ceremony marking the liberation of the Dachau concentration camp on the Jewish holiday Passover. The Jewish community association in the southern state of Bavaria said it was insensitive to choose the date to pay tribute to Nazi victims, adding that its members would not participate in the official ceremony. "There is a total ban on driving for Jews on this high holiday," association president Josef Schuster told the DPA news agency, adding that riding in a car or leaving one's town were also prohibited under Jewish law. Schuster said the International Dachau Committee, comprised largely of camp survivors, had been informed of the problem one year ago but refused to change the date. "That is very regrettable, particularly because Jews represent a significant number of the victims," Schuster said. He said the Jewish community would hold its own ceremony May 5 at Dachau's Jewish memorial. Camp survivors and officials from across Europe are to gather at the camp Sunday to mark its liberation by American troops on April 29, 1945 as World War II drew to a close. Between 1933 and 1945, more than 200,000 people from 38 countries and across the religious spectrum were held by the Nazis under appalling conditions. At least 30,000 people were killed, starved or died of disease there.