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BERLIN MONUMENT THREATENED

Plans to build an underground garage at a site where the Nazis once staged a book burning have caused a stir in Berlin. Critics claim that the proposed garage will undermine Bibliothek, Micha Ullman’s solemn monument to the macabre event. In 1994-95, the Israeli artist built an underground library in the middle of the square where on May 10, 1933, entire libraries were tossed into a bonfire by the Nazis to exterminate “the Jewish spirit and liberalism.” Ullman’s monument, which is covered by glass, consists of an enclosed fifty-square-meter white room with empty shelves capable of holding over 20,000 volumes.

The protest has been organized by the Berlin Academy of the Arts, whose members recently gathered at the site. They have gained the support of DAAD director Friedrich Meschede, who participated in an information session on the matter. Ullman himself rejects the underground-garage proposal and has expressed his position to the Berlin Building Commission. “I have defended my work,” he explained to academy members. “There is also the responsibility to say no.” The artist has threatened to dismantle the monument if the garage is built.

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