UN renames Auschwitz to reflect role of German Nazis

THE UN cultural watchdog updated its name for the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland yesterday to reflect its German Nazi role.

It also designated as a world cultural treasure, a Shi’ite holy city in Iraq where mosques have come under attack.

The Sydney Opera House was also named a world cultural site, along with the Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine in Japan, Parthian Fortresses of Nisa in Turkmenistan, and The Red Fort Complex in Delhi, India, a spokesman for Unesco’s World Heritage Committee, Roni Amelan said.

Auschwitz will now be known as “Auschwitz-Birkenau. German Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp (1940-1945)”, Amelan said.

The committee agreed to update the name on its list from “Auschwitz Concentration Camp” at its meeting in New Zealand following a request from Poland, and the change is effective immediately, Amelan said.

Auschwitz, where the Nazis killed more than 1 million people, has become a symbol of the Holocaust. Birkenau was the neighbouring camp and the site of the main gas chambers and crematoriums.

Poland, which was subjected to a brutal Nazi occupation, sought the name change to ensure people understand it had no role in establishing or running the camp.

Among the new sites inscribed on the World Heritage List were archaeological remains in the Iraqi city of Samarra. The committee did not mention the war, but said it had immediately been added to its list of sites “in danger”.

Samarra, considered a holy city by Shi’ite Muslims, is home to some of Iraq’s richest cultural treasures including majestic ruins stretching along the eastern bank of the Tigris river and the 9th-century Great Mosque, with a 170-foot-tall spiral minaret.

Holy sites in the city have been the targets of attacks by insurgents, including the June 13 bombing of minarets at the Askariya shrine.

The committee said the huge site, 26 miles long and five miles wide, “testifies to the architectural and artistic innovations that developed there and spread to the other regions of the Islamic world and beyond”.

The Teide National Park on the island of Tenerife and ancient beech forests in central Europe were also named, and an already heritage-protected area of Switzerland’s high Alps site of Jungfrau-Aletsch Bietschhorn was nearly doubled in size.

Mehmed Paa Sokolovic Bridge of Viegrad in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada’s Rideau Canal, Bordeaux and Port of the Moon in France, and Greece’s Old Town of Corfu were added to the list.

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