The state government of Berlin said Monday it had bought a Nazi-era former labor camp with the aim of opening a memorial next year, the first of its kind in Germany. The city-state said in a statement it had paid 1.4 million euros ($1.7 million) for the site, where more than 2,000 foreigners from German-occupied countries were put to work during World War II. The memorial, in Schöneweide in the east of the capital, will be managed by the Topography of Terror Foundation, which also runs a documentation center in the former Berlin headquarters of the Gestapo secret police. The camp was opened in 1943 under the supervision of armaments minister Albert Speer. Berlin Culture Senator Thomas Flierl said that the memorial would be the first in Germany to document the lives of forced laborers under the Nazis.
The memorial is expected to open in the summer of 2006. German companies and the Nazi regime operated a massive forced labor program during World War II, enslaving hundreds of thousands of people to build railroads and air bases and work in factories, military production and concentration camps. It was instituted to replace a work force that had been recruited for the war effort. The German government and industry established a 5.1-billion-euro restitution fund in 2000 after negotiations with victims' groups and the governments of the United States, Israel and several eastern European countries.
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