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Polish Official Orders Disco Shut

April 10, 2001

WARSAW, Poland (AP) _ The Krakow provincial governor has ordered the closure of a disco located in a former tannery where Auschwitz concentration camp inmates worked and died.

Gov. Ryszard Maslowski decided Friday to cancel the permission to operate a dance club and renovate the tannery building, his spokesman Artur Paszko said Tuesday.

``This decision will be carried out in the near future and the disco will leave the building of the former tannery,″ Paszko said by telephone.

The dance club located about one mile from the main camp opened last summer after authorities in the southeastern city of Oswiecim, the Polish name for the city of Auschwitz, brushed aside protests and granted an investor a permit.

The club had enraged camp survivors and organizations in Poland and abroad, who argued that running a disco near where the Nazi camp was located during the German occupation in World War II showed a lack of respect for the some 1.5 million people who perished in Auschwitz.

Many of the about 1,000 prisoners who worked in the tannery died there. Historians say the building was also used to store the property and hair of Jews killed in the gas chambers.

However, Paszko said the governor’s decision to revoke the permit resulted strictly from a clear breach of the construction regulations and administrative procedures.

The private investor operating the disco failed to win approval from neighbors, including an international youth meeting and prayer center. Disco organizers also failed to obtain authorization from the local construction authority to transform the building into a restaurant and a dance club, Paszko said.

The governor revoked the decision acting on a motion from the youth center.

Over the past few years, Jewish organizations have protested other plans to build a mini-mall across from the Auschwitz museum. The project has been limited to a visitor center.

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