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Holocaust survivors: German rail restrictions 'undignified'

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Holocaust survivors: German rail restrictions 'undignified'
Photo: DPA
16:08 CEST+02:00
German state railway operator Deutsche Bahn has outraged Holocaust survivor groups by refusing to allow a traveling train exhibition into Berlin's main station.

The International Auschwitz Committee, founded by concentration camp survivors, expressed outrage at Deutsche Bahn's decision in a statement on Monday. Closing important stations to the exhibit is "incomprehensible and unacceptable."

Organizers of "Train of commemoration," which is supported by several grass-roots initiatives, has rejected Deutsche Bahn's suggestions for alternative stations, insisting that the exhibit should be held at the Berlin central station to draw more visitors.

"Train of commemoration" is planning a silent protest march on Saturday between the Brandenburg Gate and the nearby central train station in Berlin. The train is expected to arrive on Sunday.

The exhibit, which has been traveling throughout the country since November 8, 2007, features photos and films of Auschwitz survivors describing their deportation to the Nazi concentration camp. It has been making stops at former deportation stations.

The travelling exhibit will arrive at the Auschwitz memorial on May 8, the anniversary of the end of the Second World War.

Exhibit organizers have been arguing with Deutsche Bahn over fees for the right to operate and park the train on German rails and in train stations.

The organizers of "Train of commemoration" say the national railway operator wants to charge the group between €70,000 and €100,000 for their 6,000-kilometre journey that stops at 60 stations.

Noach Flug, president of the International Auschwitz Committee, called the situation "undignified behavior by Deutsche Bahn regarding such an important civic engagement," which will damage "the perception of Germany and encourage right-wing extremism in Europe."

A Deutsche Bahn spokesperson dismissed those sentiments, saying: "We are concerned that such an accusation could be made in ignorance of our many years of active remembrance work. The many Deutsche Bahn initiatives indicate the opposite."

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