Plaszow memorial plan raises some hackles

Jewish groups object to plans of building additions to Plaszow designed with tourists in mind. And real estate developers object to a plan for a construction-free buffer zone around Plaszow because it would mean they couldn’t develop the area. The Ministry of Culture will take over Plaszow to give it the best chance of being preserved, according to the daily Gazeta Wyborcza. Jaroslaw Sellin, the deputy minister of culture, said the ministry wants Plaszow to join “the official list of museums created on the sites of former concentration camps. These places need to be provided with the best possible care, and the state can guaranteed that.” Krakow’s City Council pushed for the project ? and the ministry taking control of it. Proxima Design Group of Krakow recently won a competition to add a few structural elements to Plaszow to make it more inviting to tourists and others who want to know about its place in the Holocaust.   The competition judges said they liked the design’s simplicity. Illuminated poles will delineate the camp’s borders. A footbridge leading to the main entrance will be suspended above ground so visitors will not step on the ashes of people murdered in the camp. The footbridge will give visitors a view of the camp?s square. The outlines of the long-gone barracks that once housed the camp’s prisoners will be delineated by furrows in the ground that will be covered with glass and illuminated. Even the minimalist concepts of the winning designers are raising hackles, however. Some Krakow City Council members object to the design, said Janusz Sepiol, head of the city’s cultural affairs office. And some Jewish groups object to poles being placed into ground that, because of the bodies buried there, essentially serves as a cemetery, Sepiol said. It’s important  that the project be completed, however, Sepiol said. “If it is done with the use of  funds granted to us by the ministry, that’s  even better,” he said. City officials said the Proxima Project Group’s design interferes less with the camp’s environment than any design submitted. An issue that is grating developers is the greenbelt, or protective zone, that will be set up around the Plaszow camp once it gets the same national-memorial status that Auschwitz has. Developers have been eyeing the land adjacent to the camp for some time. A protective zone means they will be unable to develop it. Before World War II, there were two Jewish cemeteries in the Plaszow area. The Germans destroyed them in 1942 when they began building the concentration camp. In 1943, the Nazis put approximately 25,000 people, including Jews, Poles, Roma, Italians, Hungarians and Romanians, in 200 barracks at Plaszow. There is not much left of the camp today: a cemetery administrative building, Commandant Amon Goethe’s residence, two execution sites, foundations of some of the barracks and remnants of rock quarries that the prisoners worked. The site has basically been turned into a landscaped park. A number of signs and a monument erected in the 1960s inform visitors that they are entering land covered with the ashes of thousands of people who were murdered there during World War

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