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Developer sues over Holocaust project

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Associated Press / November 6, 2007

PROVIDENCE - A Holocaust survivor and real estate developer has sued after the city withdrew authorization for his organization to build a Holocaust memorial and instead named a new developer for the project.

David Newman, 86, who survived Nazi death camps and now heads the Holocaust Survivors of Rhode Island organization, had been granted permission three years ago to build a memorial across from the Providence County Courthouse.

In September, the city rescinded authorization for the memorial and designated the Jewish Federation of Rhode Island as the developer. Federation president Herbert Stern said Newman had been unable to raise money for his memorial, which was to have included six granite pillars of varying sizes to represent the 6 million Jews who died in the Holocaust.

A lawsuit filed in Superior Court accuses the Jewish Federation and the Holocaust Education and Resource Center of Rhode Island of undercutting his efforts to raise money.

Stern says there is no evidence to support Newman's claims that the federation or the Holocaust Education and Resource Center told potential donors Newman's organization was "unworthy and incapable" of creating the memorial.

"They didn't want to exclude anyone, but they also wanted to see more progress," said Alix Ogden, the city parks superintendent. "If you want to honor the sacrifices and experiences of those in the Holocaust, you want to do it when some of them are still alive."

Newman is seeking unspecified compensatory damages that would allow his organization to finish the memorial.

"Other federations around the country help the survivors by lending their support," he said. "Here, they told people they probably would be wasting their money if they gave to our group 'because it's never going to be built.' "

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