Thunderous applause greeted the first proposal for rebuilding the World Trade Center site unveiled last week by seven international design teams at the Winter Garden in the World Financial Center.
The enthusiastic response by the victims' relatives, officials and reporters gathered under the indoor garden's palm trees might have been a collective expression of relief. The initial round of proposals, released in July, had been tossed out for lack of imagination and failure to inspire.
When Martin Walser, one of Germay's leading writers, railed against the Holocaust being used as "a tool of intimidation" by unnamed individuals who "exploited [it] for present purposes," Germany's new foreign minister, Joschka Fischer knew immediately how the resulting furor would end.
"I knew it would be a disaster," Fischer told an audience at the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York earlier this month.
Under a $5.14 billion settlement reached Tuesday with Germany, Nazi slave laborers are expected to receive a one-time payment of about $10,000 in as early as six months, according to an attorney for many of the Jewish victims.
The settlement was reached after yearlong talks between the German government and German industry, and Jewish groups and victims' lawyers.