BERLIN - Nuremberg Lord Mayor Dr. Ulrich Maly is hoping for a miracle to solve the big embarrassment awaiting him in a month and a half.
On June 11, at 6 p.m., the first game of the Iranian national team in the World Cup will get under way. Nuremberg's stadium is situated
just dozens of meters from the first Nazi marching square and the enormous conference hall built for Hitler. The huge structure, which was never completed, is used today as historical testimony to the Nazi era.
The arrival of Iran's soccer team would not be causing such a stir, would it not be for the Holocaust denials of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his plans to arrive at the city in order to cheer on his team.
In the halls of government in Berlin, officials believe that the Iranian president will not arrive in the end. Therefore, they do not see a point in comply with a call by the Wiesenthal Center to declare Ahmadinejad as persona non grata.
"Ahmadinejad won't be our guest and he is not wanted among us," Maly told Yedioth Ahronoth, Israel's leading newspaper.
"From the minute FIFA decided not to boycott Iran in the world cup, the arrival of the Iranians turned into a problem for the German government. We would prefer that other teams play here. I don't plan to prevent demonstrations against Ahmadinejad and against his intolerable statements on the Holocaust and the destruction of the State of Israel," he said.
The mayor added: "I thought that an initiative would be undertaken to boycott him. If he repeats his declarations while he is here, the German government will be obligated to declare him persona non grata."
Nuremberg is also bracing for demonstrations in support of the Iranian president. Neo-Nazis have said they plan to hold support marches around the city.
"We will do everything to prevent that," promises Maly. "There is a good chance we'll succeed because Nuremberg is a symbolic city for the neo-Nazis."
Jewish-German author Ralph Giordano, a Holocaust survivor, demanded that Ahmadinejad be prevented from arriving. "For a person who denies the Holocaust and wants to destroy Israel, there is nothing to look for here," he said.