Saturday, 25. May 2013 - 09:05
This newspaper is a time machine, locked in around the time of two World Wars, one World Cup and a lost age when it was permissible to poke fun at Germans.
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02. 07. 12. - 13:00
Heated debate has broken out in Germany over the fact that several German councils have admitted taking the gold from the teeth of people who have been cremated and at least in one case selling it to build public toilets.
The story has raised painful associations with the Holocaust in which the gold teeth from those murdered by the Nazis was sold for profit.
German cities introduced individual legislation governing what was recovered from the cremation process after the conviction of six crematorium workers on charges of desecrating graves for removing the gold from bodies that passed through their hands.
In just two years, the six workers at a crematorium in Nuremberg earned more than 100,000 pounds by selling gold teeth to a local jeweller but they were not charged with theft because the gold was not said to belong to anyone after the process of cremation.
Now German media has found that many cities admitted earning hundreds of thousands from the trade in gold from fillings.
Some donated the money to charity but others used it to bolster their own coffers. Only a few such as the German state of Saxony admitted that they did nothing with the leftover metals and claimed they put all of the ashes, what ever they contained, into the urn.
President of the Association of German funeral parlours Christian Streidt was among those who slammed the news that German cities were lining their own pockets with the gold from the teeth of the deceased.
And Bastian Schenk who runs a privately owned crematorium in Aalen in Barden Wurttemberg said the reason that some did nothing with the leftover gold was that in part they were not sure who it really belongs to. Others did not want to have to experience the negative connotations of being associated with taking gold from dead people given German history.
The German city of Nuremberg where the whole debate about what to do with gold from crematorium Ashes was sparked with the charges against six workers has invested in special machinery that extracts the metal generating over 200,000 pounds a year.
In Karlsruhe they generated 70,000 pounds and in Ludwigsburg, Dortmund and Reutlingen there are also several thousand generated.
Dominik Lochmann from the company Edelmetall-Service GmbH that processes the cemetery gold and sees it as a lucrative business said that the average body yielded between three euros and 160 pounds of precious metals - which with the current price of gold was a lucrative business
The usage of the money raised varied – in Nuremberg park benches and public toilets were financed. In Reutlingen and Dortmund the money was used to subsidise the crematorium's themselves to keep costs down. In Karlsruhe it was used to maintain uncared for graves and also to provide a help service for grieving relatives.
Relatives of the deceased have the right to the gold under German law but I have to ask a pathologist or dentist to remove it before the cremation. And that is very rarely the case according to German officials. Most people waive the right to take advantage of the opportunity to remove the gold.
In Karlsruhe and Ludwigsburg relatives have to sign a paper before cremation saying that what remains belongs to the local council. In Munich people have to sign the form before they die. Failure to do so means that the gold is buried in the urn with the person.
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