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Auschwitz disco to close - owner

1.5 million
Nearly 1.5million pople died at the camp  


WARSAW, Poland -- A Polish disco near the Auschwitz death camp will close following protests by Jewish groups and the international community, its landlord said.

Jewish groups have been urging Poland's government to shut the System dance club -- located in a former tannery used by German Nazis to sort luggage and clothes of the camp's victims about 1.5 km (one mile) from Auschwitz -- since it opened a year ago.

But the government said it had no legal means to close the nightclub, popular among young people from the town of Oswiecim, where the Nazis had built their biggest World War II death camp complex of Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Jews regard Auschwitz-Birkenau, where an estimated 1.5 million people died, as their biggest burial ground in the world and a special protection zone was set up surrounding the camp. The nightclub was outside this zone.

"We decided to end the conflict, the whole fiasco was simply not worth the battle. We want to have some peace and quiet and live as normal people," Zbigniew Sroczynski, the owner of the land where the disco is located, told Reuters.

Sroczynski said he would not renew a contract with the club's owners when the present agreement runs out in November.

He said that, in the disco's place, a shopping centre would be built and that a plaque of remembrance honouring the victims of Auschwitz-Birkenau would be put up.

Plans for the shopping complex have been approved by the local authorities and international Auschwitz groups, which had protested against the existence of the discotheque, Sroczynski said.

Reuters contributed to this report.






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