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Ignatz Bubis 1927-1999 

Champion of German Jews Dies at 72

Associated Press FRANKFURT, Germany - Ignatz Bubis, a Jew who survived the Nazis and returned to Germany to become a champion of the nation's Jews and its ``Voice of the Conscience,'' died Friday. He was 72.

Bubis died after a short illness, the Central Council of Jews said in a statement.

Elected chairman and the head of Germany's growing Jewish population in 1992, Bubis often made headlines as an outspoken voice against intolerance, participating in demonstrations against radical rightist attacks and giving interviews to newspapers and TV talk shows.

As the public face of Germany's Jewish community, Bubis never backed down from his insistence that Germans must still actively remember the Holocaust and stood up to those who said the opposite.

``The Jewish world has lost a great champion of human rights who embodied the Jewish experience from the depths of the Holocaust to the renaissance of Jewish identity and peoplehood,'' said Elan Steinberg, executive director of the World Jewish Congress in New York.

In an interview with Stern magazine last month, Bubis said he felt he had accomplished ``nearly nothing'' in his seven years as the chairman of the Central Council of Jews in Germany.

``I wanted to do away with these divisions - here Germans, there Jews,'' he said.

Bubis was leader of a Jewish community that has been growing again since the fall of the Berlin Wall. Since 1989, Germany's Jewish community has grown from about 29,000 to 70,000 due to the migration of East European Jews.

Bubis was born in Wroclaw in what is now Poland on Jan. 17, 1927. His father was a civil servant. When he was 8, his family moved further east because of stepped-up Nazi activity near the border.

When he was 15, Bubis saw his father marched away by the Nazis. He never saw him again. A brother and a sister also died under the Nazis.

Bubis survived a ghetto set up by the Nazis for Jews, and a labor camp that was a munitions factory at Czestochowa, Poland. He was freed from the camp on Jan. 16, 1945, when the Soviet Red Army moved into Poland as the World War II Allies began closing in on Hitler's military. Bubis returned to Germany after the war.

As arguments increased in recent years over building a Holocaust memorial in Berlin, Bubis said he supported such a move, but preferred better upkeep of the actual sites of Nazi atrocities - the concentration camp memorials.

When parliament finally approved the Berlin memorial in June, Bubis said he was pleased because he never thought it would really happen after 11 years of on-again, off-again debate.

That same month, Bubis fell, broke his leg and was forced to use a wheelchair, although he strived to meet his many commitments.

Although Bubis is a German citizen, he told Stern that he wants to be buried in Israel because he fears his grave will be desecrated. The marble gravestone of Bubis' prececessor, Heinz Galinski, was destroyed by a bomb in December. Police suspect right-wing extremists, but no one has been charged.

Bubis is survived by his wife, Ida, and their daughter, Naomi Ann. Funeral plans were not immediately announced.

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