Posted Monday, January 15, 2001

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Jerusalem, January 14, 2001

[Picture of Paul Spiegel added by website]

Jewish leader sees German anti-Semitism on rise


BERLIN -- Jews are being portrayed in some German circles as "money- grabbing" exploiters who "conspired" to force the construction of a memorial to victims of the Nazi Holocaust, a Jewish community leader said Sunday.

SpiegelPaul Spiegel, chairman of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, said in an interview with the Berliner Morgenpost newspaper that his faith in the country had declined in the year since he took control of the small but growing Jewish community.

"People are no longer shy about hurling their anti-Semitism directly into my face or to Jews," said Spiegel, the leading spokesman for the interests of 90,000 Jews. There were about half a million Jews in Germany before Hitler took power and organized the mass slaughter of European Jews.

"We are being slandered as money-grabbing," Spiegel said. "The monument for murdered European Jews, which the German parliament wanted, is portrayed as a 'Jewish conspiracy'." Berlin Mayor Eberhard Diepgen led an unsuccessful effort to block the memorial in central Berlin with the argument that protective security costs would be prohibitively high. The project has nevertheless been plagued by long delays.

"And the Holocaust compensation fund for forced laborers is being portrayed as Jewish exploitation," he added, referring to the e4.5 billion fund created by government and industry to compensate Eastern European laborers exploited by the Nazis.

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