Ger­man maker of Zyk­lon B to fund UK Shoah sem­i­nar

The Jewish Chronicle - - News - By mar­cuS DySch

The IM­Pe­RIal War Mu­seum in lon­don has been crit­i­cised for al­low­ing a Ger­man com­pany con­nected to the Nazi death camps to fund a ma­jor in­ter­na­tional con­fer­ence.

The three-day “Be­yond Camps and Forced labour” sem­i­nar, due to be held at the mu­seum in Jan­uary, will bring to­gether aca­demics study­ing the ef­fects of Nazi atroc­i­ties on sur­vivors.

But holo­caust sur­vivor and aca­demic Michael Pinto-Duschin­sky ar­gues in to­day’s JC that it was wrong for the mu­seum to ac­cept fund­ing from De­gussa, whose orig­i­nal par­ent com­pany, Degesch, was in­volved in the pro­duc­tion of the Zyk­lon B gas used to kill Jews.

It also ex­tracted and smelted gold teeth from camp vic­tims.

But a mu­seum spokes­woman said ac­cept­ing the fund­ing, whose fig­ure is un­known, was “en­tirely le­git­i­mate”.

Or­gan­is­ers of the con­fer­ence in­clude Jewish his­to­rian David Ce­sarani and suzanne Bardgett, who over­sees the mu­seum’s per­ma­nent holo­caust ex­hi­bi­tion.

In 2004, De­gussa pulled out of a con­tract to pro­vide graf­fiti-proof­ing chem­i­cals for Berlin’s h o l o c a u s t memo­rial.

and in 1998 the com­pany agreed­tomake pay­ments to a u s c h w i t z sur­vivors who w o r k e d a s slave labour­ers in a tyre fac­tory it ran dur­ing the war.

Fur­ther fund­ing for the “Be­yond Camps and Forced labour” con­fer­ence is be­ing pro­vided by the Ger­man and Pol­ish em­bassies, the aus­trian Cul­tural Fo­rum, and the lon­don-based Ger­man his­tor­i­cal In­sti­tute.

Call­ing on the mu­seum to re­turn the money, Dr Pinto-Duschin­sky said: “Im­por­tant ques­tions of pub­lic pol­icy and of com­mu­nity re­la­tions arise from this. I agree with the mem­bers of the Berlin holo­caust Memo­rial who felt that it is un­suit­able, not to say ghoul­ish, to ac­cept fund­ing from the prof­its of the man­u­fac­ture of Zyk­lon B or of smelted tooth-gold for holo­caust ex­hi­bi­tion or memo­rial pur­poses.”

a mu­seum spokes­woman said: “It is en­tirely le­git­i­mate for a small pro­por­tion of the over­all fund­ing to come from a mod­ern-day cor­po­ra­tion which has looked crit­i­cally at its own past.

“The 2009 con­fer­ence is a fol­low-up to two suc­cess­ful con­fer­ences which took place in 2003 and 2006.”

evonik In­dus­tries, De­gussa’s cur­rent par­ent com­pany, said it ac­cepted re­spon­si­bil­ity for events in its past and wanted to sup­port the con­fer­ence, to raise aware­ness that “the holo­caust did not end with the lib­er­a­tion of those who sur­vived” and has had a se­vere im­pact on sub­se­quent gen­er­a­tions.

A Zyk­lon B con­tainer, dis­played in the Auschwitz con­cen­tra­tion camp

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