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 Posted Saturday, July 28, 2001

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July 17, 2001

Holocaust Memorial Donations Sought


BERLIN (AP) -- A provocative campaign to attract donations for Germany's memorial to Jewish victims of the Nazis gets under way this week, featuring billboards with the slogan "the Holocaust never happened."

The words, emblazoned across an Alpine landscape, are followed by a message in small print urging readers to help fight denial of the Holocaust -- a crime in Germany -- by making a donation toward the memorial.

The campaign, which begins Thursday, is to include television advertisements and distribution of a half million free postcards.

Disputes over the cost, design and prominent location of the memorial, to be erected near Berlin's Brandenburg Gate, have delayed construction for years, so organizers are braced for a mixed response to their campaign. The publicity effort follows a big rise last year in far-right crime.

"We know we're taking a risk by provoking," said Lea Rosh, a member of a citizens' group that has raised $1 million for the project. "But perhaps the majority are just a bit indifferent, and we want to give them a little push."

Federal and state funding has been guaranteed to meet the $22 million cost of the memorial, but organizers want to persuade ordinary Germans to put their own money into the site.

"In this way, people would come to view the monument as their monument," Rosh said.

She said she would meet officials from the Israeli Embassy this week to discuss how to avoid offending Jewish visitors who might misunderstand the posters.

Rosh's group aims to raise $2.2 million for a four-room documentation center for visitors to the monument, including a library and the names of the 6 million Jews killed under Hitler's Nazi regime.

The center is to lie beneath 2,700 large concrete slabs spread over a plot the size of two football fields, a design created by American architect Peter Eisenman to evoke the Nazis' orderly execution of the Final Solution.

Construction of the monument is to begin this summer and Rosh said the fund-raising drive will continue until its completion. That is expected in time for Jan. 27, 2004, the 59th anniversary of liberation of Auschwitz.

Related links:
Holocaust Memorial Campaign Aims to Shock Germany
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