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Germany erects first Holocaust memorial pillars (HA´ARETZ NEWS) By Reuters BERLIN, GERMANY 08/17/03) Source: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/pages/ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=330108&contrassID=2&subContrassID=1&sbSubContrassID=0&listSrc=Y
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BERLIN - Germany yesterday erected the first of a planned 2,700 concrete pillars for a long-delayed memorial to the six million Jews killed by the Nazis, after years of agonizing over how to express its remorse for the Holocaust.
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Designed by U.S. architect Peter Eisenman, the memorial will consist of a maze of pillars standing on a site the size of several soccer pitches, a stone´s throw from the landmark Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag parliament building at Berlin´s heart.
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Due for completion in 2005 at a cost of more than $29.3 million, the monument will be a grid of gray slabs of varying heights designed to leave visitors unsettled and disorientated. From a distance it will look like a sea of waves.
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As Eisenman examined the first 10 pillars erected on the site to check the quality of the slate grey concrete before contractors begin mass production of the slabs, the architect said the memorial should help Germans face up to their past.
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"You´ll feel what it is to be alone," he told reporters beneath the pillars. "You will feel what it is like to be lost in space. I talked to people who walked alone at Auschwitz, who saw their parents taken away, who felt lost to the world."
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Lobbying for the memorial started in 1988, but the project was repeatedly held up by disputes over its location, design, cost, building materials and a demand by the German parliament for an information center to be incorporated at the site.
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Lea Rosh, head of the Foundation for the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe which campaigned for the monument, said it was not surprising Germany had taken so long. "It is the first and only time in the history of the world as far as I know that a nation has stood to its own greatest crime and wanted to erect a memorial," she said.
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Both Rosh and Eisenman said the site of the memorial, at the heart of reunited Berlin, not far from the bunker where Adolf Hitler committed suicide in 1945 and incorporating the bunker of his chief of propaganda Joseph Goebbels, was perfect.
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"This isn´t about guilt. It is about renewal. It´s not about repression. It´s about opening up," Eisenman said. (© Copyright 2003 Haaretz. 08/17/03)
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