Berliners jib at Holocaust memorial

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A PROJECT to erect a monument to some of the 6 million Jews killed in the Holocaust has provoked an ugly row in Berlin and once again underlined how difficult many Germans still find coming to terms with their past.

The monument, a tall steel slab on which the names of around 2,000 victims would be written and in which the faces of on-lookers would be reflected, has been consistently blocked by the local council in the Berlin district of Steglitz, where it was due to be built.

Alarmed by the growing accusations of resurgent anti-Semitism the issue has stirred up, the Berlin Senate has now stepped into the row and ordered the district council to do an about-turn and approve the project by 2 May - or be taken to the courts.

Politicians wanted to honour the Jews from the district who were killed in the Holocaust and in some way mark the destruction of Steglitz synagogue on Kristallnacht, 9 November 1938.

Critics, who have included leaders of Germany's Jewish community, have accused the Steglitz politicians of blatant anti-Semitism and of trying to cover up the district's less than savoury past. Long before Hitler came to power in 1933, they point out, he enjoyed strong support in Steglitz, a relatively affluent Berlin suburb in which the Nazis chose to locate their main administrative headquarters for the concentration camps.

'We are dealing with some pretty hard-boiled characters there,' said Joachim von Rosenburg, one of the designers of the controversial monument.' They just do not want the memorial. Steglitz has a dark Nazi history and they do not want to be reminded of it.'