Literature of the Holocaust
maintained by Al Filreis

Nuns near Auschwitz remove religious symbols

Date: Sat, 21 Dec 1996 10:40:47 PST

WARSAW, Dec. 21 -- A group of Roman Catholic nuns have agreed to remove their religious symbols and give up ownership rights to a cloister adjacent to the Auschwitz (``AUS'-shveetz'') concentration camp.

The Polish news agency PAP says the nuns got $460,000 from the state for the deal, which could end three years of protests by Jewish groups against the Catholic institution.

The Jewish organizations believe there should not be any religious items at the site where some 1.5 million people died during World War II, most of whom were Jews.

The agency says the Carmelite nuns agreed to remove all religious symbols from the cloister, including a large crucifix placed outside it. New York Rabbi Ravi Weiss has staged protests to demand the removal of the cross.

PAP says the deal was signed Friday in Warsaw and further details were reported Saturday in an Auschwitz-area newspaper.

The cloister will now be turned into a center for all religious groups to educate people about the atrocities that took place at the Nazi death camp.

Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski (ah-lehk-SAHN'-dehr kva- SNYEV'-skee) discussed the plan with Jewish groups during his visit to the United States in July.

The plan also establishes a protection zone in the city, which will cause the demolition of some shops and apartment buildings. The plan comes after a protest in May by Jewish and Polish organizations against the construction of a store close to the gate of the camp.

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