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Theudanaz
Thursday, January 12th, 2006, 03:15 AM
Group Wants to Save East German Relic


BERLIN - Germany's opposition Greens hung a memorial plaque Wednesday at the dilapidated former East German parliament building to protest its planned demolition, saying the building is part of the city's history and should be saved.

The Greens hope the Bundestag lower house will give the building a reprieve on Jan. 20, when it meets to discuss last objections to it being torn down, paving the way for a former Prussian palace to be rebuilt in its place.

Several party members put up a plaque on the fence outside the closed structure, commemorating the vote in favor of Germany's reunification in 1990 by the first and only freely elected East German parliament. The communist-era lawmakers then merged with those of West Germany, and the building was closed.
Claudia Haemmerling, a Greens city council member, said new uses for the building could be found.

"If a concept is developed that would integrate part of the existing building, then you save the demolition costs and new construction costs, and it will be significantly cheaper," she said.

The building, in the heart of the city, was stripped of its interior and exterior fittings after asbestos was detected in its structure. Opened in 1976, the building's boxy bronzed glass exterior has faded and suffered from graffiti in recent years and stands in sharp contrast to the stately Berliner Dom cathedral across the street.

The building, which once held a theater and restaurants, has been used recently for art exhibitions. Demolition is slated to begin later this month. Federal lawmakers have approved a plan to build a copy of the Prussian palace once that stood on the site, but funding — estimated as high as $1.4 billion — hasn't been appropriated.