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Berlin to get giant Holocaust marker

Germany announced Wednesday that an immense gravestone inscribed with the names of millions of Jews killed by the Nazi regime will be built here as a national Holocaust memorial.

The design by Berlin architect Christine Jackob-Marks was chosen from among 528 entries. Measuring more than 100 yards square, the memorial will be built in the former no man's land of the Berlin Wall between the Brandenburg Gate and the weedy lot marking the site of Adolf Hitler's underground bunker.

With groundbreaking scheduled to begin in 1996 and construction lasting up to 2{ years, projected costs for the memorial are placed at $21.6-million. Precisely how that sum will be raised remains unclear, since state and federal authorities have earmarked only $3.6-million each. Bonn has pointedly noted that the five-acre site donated by the German government is worth an estimated $28.5-million.

Among the most imposing tasks is amassing and inscribing 4.2-million names of slaughtered Jews _ the Third Reich claimed another 2-million anonymous victims _ which will be drawn from records at the Israeli Holocaust center, Yad Vashem. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial, by comparison, contains fewer than 60,000 names.

The design calls for the memorial to be made of a huge concrete slab, slightly tilted from the horizontal, and covered with engraved granite plates. Visitors would be able to stroll along walkways angled between the plates. "Victims will be lifted from their anonymity," according to a Berlin government document describing the project.

As is inevitably the case whenever remembrance of the Holocaust is publicly debated here, the building of a national memorial has stirred controversy. Some critics have said that Germany does not need a central symbol of atonement, since the countryside is dotted with concentration camps preserved as memorials. The designation of the Berlin project as a memorial specifically commemorating Jews also has irritated other persecuted groups, including Gypsies and homosexuals.