Sunday, May 26, 2024
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Berlin offers to give away villa once owned by Goebbels
Berlin, May 3: Berlin’s government is offering to give away a villa once owned by Adolf Hitler’s propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels, hoping to end a decades-long debate on whether to repurpose or bulldoze a sprawling disused site in the countryside north of the German capital.
“I offer to anyone who would like to take over the site, to take it over as a gift from the state of Berlin,” Berlin’s finance minister, Stefan Evers, told the state parliament on Thursday, dpa reported.
Berlin has repeatedly tried to hand off the site to federal authorities or the state of Brandenburg, where the villa lies, rather than continue to pay for maintenance and security at the complex, which has become overgrown and fallen into disrepair.
Evers renewed that offer on Thursday, calling for proposals that reflected the site’s history. He didn’t say if proposals from private individuals would also be considered.
“If we fail again, as in the past decades, then Berlin has no other option but to carry out the demolition that we have already prepared for,” Evers said.
Goebbels, one of Hitler’s closest allies, had the luxury villa built in 1939 on a wooded site overlooking the Bogensee lake near the town of Wandlitz, about 40 kilometres (25 miles) north of Berlin.
A retreat from Berlin, where he lived with his wife and six children, Goebbels used the villa and an earlier house on the site to entertain Nazi leaders, artists and actors – and reputedly as a love-nest for secret affairs.
After the war, the 17-hectare (42-acre) site was used briefly as a hospital, then taken over by the youth wing of the East German communist party, which constructed a training centre, including several large accommodation blocks. After German reunification in 1990, ownership of the site returned to the state of Berlin. However, the city found no use for it. The site has since become an attraction for day-trippers who can pick their way through the overgrown grounds and peer through the floor-to-ceiling windows of the villa.
Goebbels moved back to Berlin in the final phase of the Second World War. He and his wife killed themselves and their children with cyanide capsules in Hitler’s bunker as Soviet troops closed in. The family’s opulent home on an island in Berlin was sold at auction in 2011. (AP)

Boris Johnson turned away from polling station after forgetting ID
London, May 2: Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was turned away from a polling station after forgetting to bring ID to vote in the UK’s local elections.
British media reported Friday that Johnson – who introduced the requirement for voters to provide ID with a photo when he was in office – was told by polling station staff in South Oxfordshire Thursday that he would not be able to vote without proving his identity. Sky News reported that Johnson, who served as Conservative prime minister from 2019 to 2022, was later able to cast his ballot and that he voted Conservative. Johnson introduced the Elections Act requiring photo ID in 2022, and the new law was first implemented last year in local elections. But Thursday was the first time large numbers of voters across England and Wales have had to present ID, such as a passport or driving license, to vote.
The Electoral Commission said the vast majority of people were able to meet the new requirements, although it noted that some people who would have wanted to vote may have decided not to try because they did not have acceptable ID.
It also said there was evidence that some people, such as disabled people and the unemployed, found it harder to show voter ID. (AP)

Denmark raises limit for abortions to 18 weeks
Copenhagen, May 3: The Danish government announced on Friday that women in the Scandinavian country will, in the future, have the right to choose abortion up to the end of the 18th week of pregnancy.
Until now, the limit for abortions in Denmark has been 12 weeks.
Danish Minister for the Interior and Health Sophie Lohde said in a statement: “There is no medical evidence for the current limit, and there is also nothing to suggest that there will be significantly more or later abortions if we raise the limit.”
The amendment to the law is due to take effect in mid-2025. Additionally, it grants 15 to 17-year-olds the autonomy to have an abortion without parental consent or approval by a specialist commission.
Denmark was one of the first Western European countries to give women the right to self-determined abortion.
Since 1973, pregnant women residing in Denmark have been able to have an abortion up to the end of the 12th week without the requirement of providing a reason or covering the costs.
Even after that, abortions are possible under certain conditions but require the authorisation of an abortion commission. (IANS)

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