This is the man who planned to open a supermarket at Auschwitz

ADRIAN BRIDGE Central Europe Correspondent

Controversial plans to build a shopping complex right outside the gates of the former Auschwitz death camp were put on ice by the Polish government yesterday following fierce protests from international Jewish groups and senior Israeli politicians.

Poland's Culture Minister, Zdzislaw Podkanski, declared all building work on-site should be halted forthwith pending a full investigation into the project. Other government officials, however, declared there was now virtually no chance it could ever go ahead.

"There has been a very strong reaction against this scheme and we have to be sensitive to it," said Krzysztof Sliwinski, the Polish ambassador responsible for relations with Jewish communities. "The Auschwitz site still has a very powerful significance and nothing done there should be motivated by profit."

Under the plans drawn up by a consortium headed by a Polish developer, Janusz Marszalek, the proposed shopping complex was to include a home and garden centre, a supermarket and a fast-food restaurant.

The project, to be housed in existing buildings just outside the main camp gate, was approved by local authorities in the nearby town of Oswiecim who argued it did not contravene a 1979 Unesco order establishing a 500-metre protective zone around the camp. The plans also won the backing of the director of the Auschwitz museum, Jerzy Wroblewski, who said they were "in no way harmful".

Jewish leaders and Auschwitz survivors thought otherwise, slamming it as an affront to the memory of the estimated 1.5 million killed at the most infamous of the Nazi death camps and comparing it to a similarly insensitive - and unsuccessful - attempt in 1991 to build a shopping complex at the site of the former concentration camp at Ravensbruck in Germany.

"It is simply unthinkable that directly in front of the biggest death factory of all time . . . a supermarket is to be built," said Szymon Szurmiej, a leader of Poland's Jewish community. "Maybe tomorrow they will set up roulette tables in the barracks."

Zygmunt Sobolewski, a camp survivor and vice-president of the Auschwitz Awareness Society in Canada, castigated what he described as a "brazen attempt" to capitalise on the half a million visitors to the camp each year.

The row over the proposed shopping complex at Auschwitz comes just over a year after relations between Poland and Jewish organisations were badly strained in a disagreement over how to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living