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Germany Dedicates Nazi History Site

January 28, 2000

NUREMBERG, Germany (AP) _ Continuing efforts to educate new generations about Germany’s Nazi past, officials dedicated the site of a documentation center Friday at the vast parade grounds where Adolf Hitler once held his annual party rallies.

The new center, scheduled to open in mid-2001, will explain the history of the area where thousands of Nazis raised their arms in salute to Hitler.

``Because the number of people who personally experienced National Socialism is sinking, the number of questions about this chapter in German history will increase,″ said Nuremberg Mayor Ludwig Scholz. ``We have to provide complete answers _ and the new documentation center will try to meet this special task.″

The center is the latest of several at locations bearing deep associations to the 12 years of Nazi rule.

Last year, a documentation center opened near the southern mountain resort town of Berchtesgaden, which was used as a second base of government by Hitler. That area too was used for propaganda by the Nazi-run media, which exploited the picturesque countryside to portray Hitler as a nature-lover.

On Thursday, a ceremonial dedication was held at a planned Holocaust memorial in central Berlin that will also contain a documentation center. The memorial is located directly above the network of bunkers where Hitler spent the last days of the war.

The Nuremberg documentation center will be built as part of a giant, unfinished congress hall that sits across a lake from the reviewing stands where the annual Nazi party rallies were held. The hall and stands are the two largest remaining structures on grounds that once spread across 10 square miles.

The city has spent decades trying to figure out what to do with the area, and parts of the site have been turned into parks. Scholz and other officials said that in contrast to leftover Nazi buildings in places like Berlin or Munich _ some of which are now used to house government ministries _ there was nothing they could do with what was left in Nuremberg.

On Friday, officials pulled a one-ton block from the gray granite facade of the hall _ built in part with stones mined in concentration camp quarries _ to make room for the new, modern steel center that will cut into the north wing of the semicircular, Colloseum-like building.

The cornerstone for the congress hall was laid during the 1935 Nazi party congress _ the same year that the infamous Nuremberg laws were passed that turned the Nazis’ anti-Semitic views into legal doctrine.

But only the outer part of the hall was constructed, as World War II caused construction of the building to be put on hold. Plans were for a structure 225 feet high with a capacity to hold 70,000 people.

In addition to plans and documents on the party grounds, the center will also show private films of everyday life in Nazi Germany along with propaganda films from the Third Reich.

Nuremberg building director Walter Anderle called the project a ``settling-up with this unholy architectural inheritance.″

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