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October 6, 1999

No Disco Near Former Death Camp


WARSAW, Poland (AP) -- A provincial governor in southern Poland has revoked permission for a disco in a building used for storage by the Auschwitz Nazi death camp during World War II.

Jerzy Meysztowicz, deputy governor of the Malopolska province, acted Tuesday in response to a protest from heads of a Polish-German center for international youth dialogue in the southern city of Oswiecim.

They said noise from the disco, to be located 50 yards from the center, would disturb visitors and disrupt its mission of reconciliation and understanding between Poles and Germans.

Local authorities are to visit the site and make a final decision by mid-October, private Radio Zet said.

Oswiecim city authorities had given permission to an entertainment company, Art-Mix, to open a disco in a building that once was a storage house for the Auschwitz camp.

The building is now outside the area of the camp's museum, and so far museum officials have not made any public comments on the planned disco.

Oswiecim administrator Adam Bilski had given the go-ahead, saying the entire town bears marks of the death and suffering that Nazis organized there.

"You cannot make a chief argument of it because it will turn out that no one has the right to live or work here," Bilski said.

Between 1940 and 1945 about 1.5 million people, mostly Jews from around Europe, were killed in the Auschwitz-Birkenau gas chambers or died from disease, malnutrition and forced labor.

Museum historians say the building planned for disco initially was the camp's tannery storage house. It also housed belongings taken from Jews transported to the gas chambers, and later hair of the victims was stored there.

Ireneusz Lewandowski, who drew up the disco plans and represents Art-Mix, says they have a witness who denies any hair was ever kept there. He said the building will be soundproof and should cause no problems for the dialogue center.square

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