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Nobel Peace laureate Elie Wiesel praised Germany for marking a day of remembrance for Holocaust victims today but said that asking Jews for forgiveness would send an even stronger signal at the start of the new century.

Wiesel, a Romanian-born Jew who survived the Auschwitz death camp, urged German leaders assembled for a solemn ceremony in parliament never to turn the page on the death of 6 million Jews under Nazi rule.

"I speak to you as a witness," he said, opening an emotional speech in the refurbished Reichstag building with a Hebrew prayer.

Wiesel, 71, said: "There are those who will say it's too easy for you just to devote one day a year to pay homage and then go back to your business. I don't agree. I take your move very seriously."

After the ceremony, German leaders symbolically dedicated the site of a national Holocaust memorial close to the Reichstag and the Brandenburg Gate.

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