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Jewish cemetery in Berlin decayed

Aug. 30, 2005 at 11:47 PM

BERLIN, Aug. 30 (UPI) -- Berlin officials have backed a movement to have the city's Jewish cemetery declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The 104-acre Weissensee cemetery has become so overgrown with ivy that many areas are difficult to get to, Deutsche Welle reports. Gravestones have fallen over, and inscriptions are almost illegible from weathering on many of them.

"If help doesn't come promptly from the state and the federal government, an end of the Jewish cemetery in Weissensee will no longer be avoidable," Albert Meyer, a leader of the Jewish community, said.

Before the Nazi takeover in 1933, Berlin was home to 175,000 Jews, and Weissensee was the community's most important cemetery, final resting place of many writers, business owners and leaders. The Jewish community now numbers 12,000.

Meyer estimates the cost of repairing the cemetery at $49 million. The Jewish community a few weeks ago launched a bid for UNESCO designation. Mayor Klaus Wowereit, saying that the cemetery is of national importance, endorsed the move Monday.

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