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New York (JTA) — After a recent
visit to Eastern Europe, activist
Rabbi Avi Weiss has warned that
the sites of former Nazi death
camps are being Christianized by
the presence of churches and
Rabbi Weiss, with a small
group of followers, demonstrated
Aug. 17 at a Catholic church lo-
cated at the Auschwitz/Birkenau
eath camp, and went on to the
obibor death camp in Poland,
Theresienstadt in the Czech Re-
ublic and Dachau, which is 10-
bated in Germany.
The demonstration recalled
the now-notorious one Rabbi
Weiss led in 1989 to protest the
presence of a convent at
1 ,iuschwitz. It ended with Rabbi
Weiss and his followers being
kicked and punched by convent
workers in the presence of Polish
This protest went without in-
"Revisionism is happening
right now in the camps," said
Rabbi Weiss in a telephone in-
terview from Paris. "This is noth-
ing less than an attempt to
Christianize the Holocaust.
"No matter where you stand in
, k when you look up you
3ee crosses towering over your
:lead," said Rabbi Weiss, who
Meads Amcha-the Coalition for
"If revisionism is taking place
right there, then it is inevitable
- hat the history of the Holocaust
will be distorted," he said.
Church, which is located outside
the barbed-wire fence that en-
'closed prisoners, is in a building
designed by the Nazis to house
the camp commandant's office.
The building was never used
or that purpose, according to
Rabbi Weiss, but was used to
eat, rape and murder Jewish
women taken there by Nazi
guards from inside Birkenau.
.37It was used as a candle facto-
following the war and is the
nly structure remaining of the
complex that served as the Nazi
p.eadquarters at Auschwitz/
Birkenau, said Rabbi Weiss.
The presence of the church vi-
plates a 1987 agreement signed
by European Jewish leaders and
four Catholic cardinals stipulat-
ng that "there will be no perma-
ent Catholic place of worship at
kuschwitz/Birkenau," said Rab-
During his hour-long protest,
Rabbi Weiss and his followers
r olocked the entrance to the
'church, said Psalms and recited
Kaddish, the Jeirish prayer for
They were surrounded by at
least 25 Polish police, said Rabbi
A 40-foot-high cross remains
outside the building which
housed the controversial convent
at Auschwitz, said Rabbi Weiss.
That building was originally
used to store Zyklon-B, the gas
used to murder many of the 1.6
million Jews killed at Auschwitz.
The Carmelite nuns who had
occupied the site vacated it last
year after an international furor
over their presence, delicate ne-
gotiations between Jewish lead-
ers and Catholic officials, the
construction of a new convent and
meeting center nearby and, fi-
nally, the intercession of Pope
John Paul II.
"The issue is that a cross at
Auschwitz is as inappropriate as
a Jewish star would be at the
largest Christian cemetery in the
world," said Rabbi Weiss.
At Sobibor, where 250,000
Jews and 1,000 non-Jews were
murdered by Nazis, a large, two-
story Catholic church has been
standing since the late 1970s, he
It was built on the site of a
small, prewar chapel which had
been used by Nazis to kill some
Bells peal hourly
from a Catholic
Jews and was razed by the Nazis
after the revolt at Sobibor.
At Theresienstadt there is a
50-foot-high cross at the entrance
of the camp, said Rabbi Weiss.
Dachau is "the worst," he said.
"Today it is a Christian camp."
There is a Carmelite convent
built in 1964 at the back of the
concentration camp whose resi-
dents "are praying for atonement
and reconciliation;" said Rabbi
A Protestant church, in an-
other recently built building, is
also located within Dachau and
holds regular Sunday worship
services, he said.
Bells peal hourly from a
Catholic monument near
Dachau, said Rabbi Weiss, over-
shadowing the menorah which
constitutes a Jewish memorial
If the church at Bir-
kenau/Auschwitz II is not re-
moved by next spring, he warned,
he will orchestrate a "massive"
protest in time for the 50th an-
niversary of the liberation of the
death camps by the allied forces.
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