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Auschwitz Crosses Must Go!!

Chanting "Shame on Poland!", dozens of New Yorkers carrying signs such as "Crosses Distort, Desecrate Auschwitz Memory" and "Why is the Pope Silent on Auschwitz Crosses?", demonstrated Sunday at the Polish Consulate in midtown Manhattan. They angrily demanded the immediate removal of the now 229 crosses erected by Polish nationalists, anti-semites and skinheads in recent weeks next to a 24-foot cross standing in front of the highly controversial former convent at Auschwitz.

Bob Kunst, founder of the Miami-based Shalom International, which organized the protest, declared: "By not responding to this provocation, the Polish government has laid down the gauntlet, challenging world Jewry to whether we'll respond. Auschwitz belongs to us. It's our Jewish cemetery, the largest in the world. It doesn't belong to the Polish government or Catholic Church."

Kunst announced further demonstrations on an international scale for November 8th "to mark Kristallnacht, the beginning of Nazi terror to wipe out Jews, and the crosses at Auschwitz, the attempt to wipe our memory of Nazism's victims." Kunst called for a boycott of Polish products and services. "We're not going to support on any scale this outrage, assisting Poland while at the same time having this desecration shoved down our throats."

Glenn Richter of the Coalition for Jewish Concerns-Amcha, which assisted coordinating Sunday's action, asked, "Why has the Polish government taken a hands-off attitude to the crosses? Why hasn't the archbishop of Poland, Cardinal Josef Glemp, exerted his leadership, but only declares that the Jews 'cannot find words today of understanding and compromise'? Why has the Pope, who speaks of Catholic-Jewish reconciliation at the end of this millennium, remained silent?" Richter also detailed the erection of large Christian symbols at many other Nazi camps in eastern and central Europe, including the church at Birkenau, Auschwitz's killing grounds - "though the Polish Church says that over 90% of Auschwitz's victims were Jews."

Oliver Koppell, former New York state Attorney General, also addressed the crowd. "I am the son of parents who fled Nazi Germany, a country which murdered its Jews," he stated. "It is an outrage to see the memory of the Holocaust and one of the worst terrors in the history of man desecrated in Auschwitz. To try to Christianize the Holocaust is an insult to Jews and their memory. This must be protested by all decent people around the world, Jews or not.

"Imagine if you'd try to put up Christian crosses around the death camps in Cambodia. That was a Cambodian tragedy, not to be torn away from those who mourn for it by trying to change its identity." Koppell also blasted plans for a fast food restaurant opposite Auschwitz. "Auschwitz is hallowed ground. You wouldn't sell hamburgers in a church or synagogue. You shouldn't sell hamburgers at Auschwitz."

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