Store Chain Says It Will Drop Plan to Build Store on Nazi Camp Site
BERLIN (AP) _ A store group said Friday it was willing to drop plans to build a supermarket on the site of a former Nazi concentration camp following protests by Jewish groups.
The Kaiser supermarket chain’s construction on the site of the Ravensbrueck concentration camp brought outrage from the Jewish community, which called it an insult to the memory of those of who died there.
The controversy has split the government of east Germany’s Brandenburg state and gained the attention of Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal.
Nearly 100,000 women and children were killed by the Nazis at Ravensbrueck, a concentration camp for women and children. It was located in Furstenberg, about 60 miles north of Berlin, and a memorial to the victims stands at the site.
The construction project prompted protests and one arson attack in recent days, and a Jewish women’s group announced plans to camp out at the site to prevent further building.
On Friday, an official of the Tengelmann store group, which owns the supermarket chain, said the company was willing to drop the project ″without demanding compensation.″
But business manager Hans-Christian Bremme said Tengelmann’s contract with an investor financing the project ″cannot be nullified by only one party.″ He added that Furstenberg, which issued the construction permit and sold the property, will also have to reach a satisfactory agreement with the investor. On Wednesday, the culture minister of Brandenburg state, Heinrich Enderlein, ordered construction halted so officials could study the situation.
But a day later, the state’s construction minister, Jochen Wolf, said building could resume as long as the character of the memorial was preserved.
The go-ahead prompted the deputy chairwoman of the Social Democratic faction in the state legislature, Uta Mueller, to decry it as a ″monstrous occurrence.″
Wiesenthal sent a letter to Brandenburg’s governor, Manfred Stolpe, expressing outrage over the project.
″It is hard to understand that a state government, after the experiences of regimes such as the Nazis and the Stalinists, could even consider such an intention,″ the letter said.
Police said Friday that unknown assailants carried out an arson attack at the site late Wednesday, causing minor damage to some building materials.