• Germany's news in English

Third Reich's Foreign Ministry deeply involved in Holocaust

The Local · 24 Oct 2010, 17:32

Published: 24 Oct 2010 11:53 GMT+02:00
Updated: 24 Oct 2010 17:32 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

"The Foreign Ministry actively supported all measures of persecution, rights deprivation, expulsions and the Holocaust," Eckart Conze, one of four historians asked to shed light on the ministry's role in the Holocaust, told the weekly Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung.

"The Foreign Ministry was a criminal organisation," he told Der Spiegel magazine.

Historians investigating the ministry's role found documents in which the official in charge of Jews, Franz Rademacher, justified why he had to travel on an official mission to Belgrade.

"Liquidation of Jews in Belgrade and talks with Hungarian envoys in Budapest," read one paper. Conze called the revelations "shocking."

The historians' report which was commissioned by then Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer in 2005 is to be officially published next week. "I read the report and was more and more horrified," Fischer told the FAS.

Holocaust survivors on Sunday welcomed the report's findings.

The American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants hailed the report as shedding light on a chapter that had remained shrouded in secrecy more than six decades on.

"Germany has taken an honest and painful look at its past," Elan Steinberg, vice president of the New York-based organisation, said in a statement.

"Previous efforts to whitewash the role of the Foreign Ministry and its personnel in the crimes of the Holocaust are now categorically refuted. This report is a pointed reminder of the broad cross-section of German society and institutions which were implicated in the Holocaust and the brutalities of the Nazi regime."

Conze said previous claims Nazi Germany's diplomats played ittle active part in the deportation and mass extermination of European Jews were patently false.

The 880-page report entitled "The Office and the Past" was written by Conze and fellow German Norbert Frei, Peter Hayes of the United States and Israeli Moshe Zimmermann.

The research found that post-war chancellor Konrad Adenauer, who also served as foreign minister from 1951 to 1955, kept many of the Nazi diplomats involved in the Holocaust on staff.

Der Spiegel said the envoys were often sent to Arab countries or Latin America, where public protest over their past was less likely.

In 1966, Social Democratic Foreign Minister Willy Brandt, who would later become chancellor, maintained Ernst Achenbach as a top diplomat despite his involvement in the Holocaust.

Achenbach had been a high-ranking staff member at the German embassy in Paris and was "actively involved in deportations", the historians said. He managed to block until 1974 an agreement with Paris allowing Nazis who had committed crimes in France to be prosecuted.

The cover-up continued at least into the 1980s, when the ministry declined to hand over damaging documents from the Third Reich to researchers.

Story continues below…

Der Spiegel noted the internal resistance to a thorough reckoning at the

ministry had continued even when Fischer ordered the report five years ago.

It said current Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle would have the report included in the syllabus for diplomatic training and have embassy brochures rewritten if they propagated "myths" about the Nazi-era foreign service.

AFP/The Local/bk/mry

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

23:33 October 24, 2010 by parografik
The entrance exam for the diplomatic corps should have included the question:

Which of the multiple choice answers best fit the following statement:

Diplomats, religious leaders, and the general population had no idea of t he atrocities being committed by Hitler and his brown shirts.

This statement is:

A) True, so I'll just put my pencil down now, I'm not capable of this level of B.S.

B) False, but pigs have been flying for some time now.

C) No way to know, just like evolution and the true number of Tiger Wood's mistresses.

D) Let's just act as if this is a lie and hope no one challenges us on it. If they do, let's continue to act like no one is challenging us on it. If they invent a time machine and bring us back to witness it, we'll still act like no one is challenging us. Would you like to try some fine German coffee?
11:53 October 25, 2010 by Wabit
Are we never going to be able to move on from this terrible chapter of History? Why bring it up again and again.......... Seems like some people want these events from the past to dominate world History books for ever. I am think that people are already becomig tired of the subject and most are willing to let it be in the past where it belongs......

Let's look to the future and explore the stars..... Let not our shadows overtake us and above all display the courage of our convictions and move forward into a new era of discovery.
14:40 October 25, 2010 by parografik
Sure, and pass me another Soma before liftoff.

I certainly think the official record should be corrected, these acts were never perpetrated by a handful of people, but by thousands, and condoned by the public at large. There were certainly people who objected to it, but the general population went along like a herd of cows. This is something any society might be capable of, if the right prods were used, so vigilance and understanding of history are vital in preventing it. There has been genocide before and since, but perhaps the bureaucracy and record keeping of the Third Reich can afford clues we might not otherwise be given in the development of these policies.

As for the diplomats, this frees them up from the hypocrisy of their exceptional-ism, and forces to become creative for ecological and less naive solutions in the international community. Practical as they must be, this can only be a useful reminder.
14:53 October 25, 2010 by storymann
Wabit...people are still in awe by the fact that a first world countries national policy was the extermination of the Jewish race,and the untermench of Europe.Maybe another 50 years or more.
18:59 October 25, 2010 by Bruno53
Excuse me but, is this new? Wasn't Joachim Ribbentrop, the foreign minister under Hitler, executed in 1946? So what?
23:57 October 25, 2010 by goeseast
Enough already!!!!! The war ended over 60yrs ago.Germany has long since paid her dues to the world and is now a full fledged democracy yet some people out there still want to contimue to punish and hurt the German people by reliving a dark chapter in their history.Way past time now to let it go.
02:11 October 26, 2010 by Der Grenadier aus Aachen
In other news, the sky is blue.

Also just in; my generation had nothing to do with the holocaust and is sick of the constant harping.
10:02 October 26, 2010 by Frenemy
@Der Grenadier:

damned straight! In fact I might have to start a new one if this sh!t keeps up!
11:05 October 26, 2010 by Johnne
I think the jews should be in a better position to tell us all if the holocaust is "gone thing" @frenemy. I would like you to just simply post your name and address here if you know you really have the balls to start a new holocaust..be civilized, and watch what you say because you can never know who´s reading your comment here.
11:18 October 26, 2010 by Frenemy
@Johnne: In case you didn't realize, I wasn't making an antisemitic comment. I was referring to people that insist on reducing everything to a pre-1945 mentality.

The very fact that I even have to explain myself says a lot about the political climate here in Germany...
11:42 October 26, 2010 by Johnne

I can understand, it is infact disgusting and I hate it myself cos I know how much native Germans get humiliated with this "nazi" thing. I think it should be forgotten because some young people even find false role models with all the too much publicity of that dark history. But it´s unfortunate because people will mis-interpret you. I feel bad when I´m in Holland or the UK and people ask me why I live in Germany! or even when I watch local tv in london or the UK history channel. I think my wife feels very bad about it & I feel it with her.
16:14 October 26, 2010 by storymann
when you do something unforgivable you want everyone to forget,,to bad it does not work that way.It is not when you are tired of listening to it ,it is when the people are tired of telling it that it will end.
16:45 October 26, 2010 by Der Grenadier aus Aachen

Interesting position, but completely invalid, since the vast majority of the perpetrators aren't actually alive anymore. My peers and I had nothing to do with this, and while we're willing to accommodate history to a degree, we'll be damned if we accept full responsibility for things that happened before we were sperm and egg. We have no "obligation" to listen whatsoever.
17:23 October 26, 2010 by storymann
Der Grenadier aus Aachen it is not about being valid or invalid,,or about the dead or dying perpetrators,, it is about what people remember or forget..and in the case of the Holocaust people have not forgot ,..if the mention of it bothers you ,then you must in some way feel connected.. if not then don't let it concern you take the comments for what they are ,, The Truth.
02:54 October 27, 2010 by deutschamer
I'm a white american but I have no sense of responsibility for slavery because I had nothing to do with it. I have Scandinavian heritage but I have no guilt for the Viking atrocities. The important thing is that the Germans teach accurate history in their schools. It my understanding that they do. Most other countries do not, including mine. Its usually white-washed and glamorized to make us look better than what we were.
15:08 October 27, 2010 by tallady
Super,,then the truth shall set you free.
20:19 October 28, 2010 by Frank84
Oh, what I have to hear that the foreign ministry of the German Nazi Reich was involved in crime against 'non-Germans'. The next one what will report is that the German population was also involved in Nazi crime. I wouldn't be surprised. The Germans love it to play the downtrodden of Hitler. Arggh.
04:56 October 30, 2010 by Diet Simon
deutschamer wrote: "the Germans teach accurate history in their schools. It my understanding that they do. Most other countries do not, including mine."

I couldn't agree more. As an Australian of German descent who spent nearly 50 years in Germany, I admire the bulk of Germans for taking on board and dealing with the Reich's horrors without feeling guilt - most of them were not there when it was going on. But everyone who wants to be, is very aware and very awake about it in Germany, resisting anything that looks like a resurgence.

By comparison, I am horrified by the denialism in Australia about its holocaust of Aborigines. UN report after UN report chastises Australia, which has signed up to all the right pacts but doesn't care a row of beans when it's criticised.

Probably most telling about the Australian mindset is a survey that found 70 per cent opposed to the teaching of Aboriginal history.

Yet Australians are among the most virulent knockers of Germans or even those who've been citizens longer than they are old.

The multicultural, nationally airing SBS television service has run Nazi history docos at least once a week in the nearly five years I have been back in this country. I rarely see them mention the Aboriginal holocuast.
15:16 October 30, 2010 by Bruno53
So Germany paid its "dues"? Well, as George Santayana once said, "those who don't remember the past are condemned to repeat it". Remembering the Nazi period and World War II help us to be on guard. And not just for Germany but the rest of the world.
01:21 November 1, 2010 by jarrr
this naive phrase - "those who don't remember the past are condemned to repeat it" -bla bla talk isn`t sticking anymore in germany.the german youth doesn`t give a .... .whoever has the power calls the shots and will try to impose its side of history and self-righteousness. instead worrying about germanys "dues" worry about those powers who are actively bringing terror to foreign lands and have been for the last 60 years.
Today's headlines
Outrage over ruling on 'brutal' gang rape of teen girl
The now convicted suspects, sitting in court in Hamburg. Photo: DPA.

A 14-year-old girl was gang-raped and left partially clothed and unconscious in freezing temperatures. Now prosecutors are appealing the sentences for the young men found guilty, most of whom will not set foot in jail.

Dozens of Turkish diplomats apply for asylum in Germany
Demonstrators holding a giant Turkish flag protest against the attempted coup in Istanbul in July. Photo: DPA.

Since the failed putsch attempt in Turkey in July, Germany has received 35 asylum applications from people with Turkish diplomatic passports, the Interior Ministry confirmed on Wednesday.

Hertha Berlin fan club criticised for 'anti-gay banner'
Hertha BSC beat FC Cologne 2-1. Photo: DPA

A 50 metre fan banner apparently mocking the idea of gay adoption has overshadowed Hertha BSC's win in the Bundesliga.

Germany stalls Chinese takeover of tech firm Aixtron
Aixtron headquarters in Herzogenrath. Photo: DPA

The German government on Monday said it had withdrawn approval for a Chinese firm to acquire Aixtron, a supplier to the semiconductor industry, amid growing unease over Chinese investment in German companies.

Politicians call for tough sentences for 'killer clowns'
File photo: DPA.

Now that the so-called 'killer clown' craze has spread from the US to Germany, elected officials are drawing a hard line against such "pranks", with some threatening offenders with jail time of up to a year.

Nearly one in ten Germans are severely disabled
Photo: DPA

New figures reveal that 9.3 percent of the German population last year were considered severely disabled.

The Local List
Germany's top 10 most surreal sites to visit
The Upside-Down House, in Mecklenburg–Western Pomerania. Photo: Olaf Meister / Wikimedia Commons

From upside-down houses on Baltic islands to a fairy-tale castle near the Austrian border, Germany is a treasure trove of the extraordinary.

Bavarian critics back Merkel for Chancellor again
Photo: DPA

The Christian Social Union (CSU) have long delayed backing Angela Merkel as their candidate for Chancellor in next year's general election. But now key leaders are supporting her publicly.

Four taken to hospital after hotel toilet bursts into flames
File photo: DPA.

Four guests at a Nuremberg hotel were taken to hospital due to smoke inhalation early Monday morning after a toilet there burst into flames.

Creepy clown scare spreads to Germany
Two of the clowns were apparently equipped with chainsaws. Photo: Pedro Pardo / AFP file picture

Police said Friday five incidents involving so-called scary clowns had occurred in two north German towns, including one assailant who hit a man with a baseball bat, amid fears that Halloween could spark a rash of similar attacks.

10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd