Cracks spread in Berlin Holocaust memorial: study

BERLIN Mon Jan 21, 2008 9:34am EST

A crack of one of the concretes of the ''Holocaust Mahnmahl'' memorial is pictured in Berlin August 8, 2007. The Holocaust memorial is showing signs of serious wear and tear just three years after its completion, with cracks in more than half of its concrete blocks, according to a study published on Monday. REUTERS/Tobias Schwarz

A crack of one of the concretes of the ''Holocaust Mahnmahl'' memorial is pictured in Berlin August 8, 2007. The Holocaust memorial is showing signs of serious wear and tear just three years after its completion, with cracks in more than half of its concrete blocks, according to a study published on Monday.

Credit: Reuters/Tobias Schwarz

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BERLIN (Reuters) - The Holocaust memorial in Berlin is showing signs of serious wear and tear just three years after its completion, with cracks in more than half of its concrete blocks, according to a study published on Monday.

Structural engineer Joachim Schulz conducted a survey of the field of blocks located in Berlin's central Mitte district at the end of last year for Germany's Cicero magazine.

Almost fourteen hundred of the 2,711 blocks that make up the site are beginning to crack, he said in an interview published in the monthly magazine's latest edition.

"Sixty percent of the cracks are minor faults and not really visible but 40 percent are bigger than 0.2 millimeters and that's worrying," said Schulz.

Hindered by design and construction disagreements that attracted global media attention, the memorial was completed in May 2005 at a cost of 27 million euros ($39.1 million).

The most controversial issue surrounding its design was the role of Degussa -- the company that supplied the anti-graffiti paint for the blocks.

Construction was briefly halted in late 2003 after it emerged the firm's parent manufactured the poison gas used in Nazi death camps.

Structural damage to the Holocaust memorial, which covers 19,000 square meters (205,000 square feet), was first recorded in January 2006 when 400-450 blocks were showing cracks.

Holocaust memorial director Uwe Neumaerker told Reuters on Monday the damage was due to sunlight: "We plan to begin repairs as soon as the temperature rises and the weather dries up, probably at the end of March."

(Reporting by Sarah Roberts; Editing by Iain Rogers and Jon Boyle)

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