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NAZIS

German Foreign Minister slams corona protesters for Nazi victim comparisons

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on Sunday lashed out at anti-mask protesters comparing themselves to Nazi victims, accusing them of trivialising the Holocaust and "making a mockery" of the courage shown by resistance fighters.

German Foreign Minister slams corona protesters for Nazi victim comparisons
Heiko Maas. Photo: DPA

The harsh words came after a young woman took to the stage at a protest against coronavirus restrictions in Hanover Saturday saying she felt “just like Sophie Scholl”, the German student executed by the Nazis in 1943 for her role in the resistance.

A video of the speech has already been viewed more than a million times on social media, with many sharply condemning the speaker.

“Anyone today comparing themselves to Sophie Scholl or Anne Frank is making a mockery of the courage it took to stand up to the Nazis,” Maas tweeted.

 

“It trivialises the Holocaust and shows an unbearable forgetting of history. Nothing connects the corona protests with the resistance fighters. Nothing!”

In the clip, a steward is seen interrupting the woman on stage to hand over his orange high-visibility vest, saying her words amounted to “minimising the Holocaust”.

“I'm not working security for such nonsense,” he is heard saying before being escorted away.

The young woman, who identified herself as 22-year-old Jana, then bursts into tears before dropping her microphone and leaving the stage.

'Inappropriate and tasteless'

In another incident last week, an 11-year-old girl addressed an anti-mask demo in the western city of Karlsruhe, likening herself to Jewish teenager Anne Frank because she had had to celebrate her birthday quietly to avoid the neighbours hearing that they had invited friends over.

Frank, whose diary written while in hiding in the Netherlands has been read by millions, was eventually betrayed and perished in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 1945.

The comparison drew outrage, with Karlsruhe police calling it “inappropriate and tasteless”.

Germany has long prided itself on confronting its Nazi past and acknowledging its “eternal responsibility” for the Holocaust, in which six million Jews were murdered.

The far-right AfD party has in recent years however challenged Germany's remembrance culture, with senior figures openly calling for the country to stop atoning for Nazi crimes.

 

Government measures introduced to halt the spread of the coronavirus have triggered large protests in Germany, drawing in people from the far-left, conspiracy theorists and right-wing extremists who claim the curbs infringe on their civil rights.

Several hundred people gathered in Berlin on Sunday for another anti-corona protest, a smaller turnout than expected.

Germany's restaurants, bars, leisure and cultural centres have been ordered to close for the month of November to halt a rapid rise in infections, while schools and shops have been allowed to stay open.

Chancellor Angela Merkel and the leaders of Germany's 16 states on Wednesday will decide if tougher measures are needed in the run-up to Christmas.

Finance Minister Olaf Scholz told the Bild daily on Sunday that the current restrictions “will likely have to be extended for some time”.

Member comments

  1. So, you’re a Nazi if you’re a ‘Corona-Denier’ but you’re not one if you call for so-called ‘Deniers’ to be deported?

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NAZIS

German justice contaminated by Nazis in post-war years

Germany's justice system was still filled with former Nazis well into the 1970s, as the Cold War coloured efforts to root out fascists, according a damning official inquiry presented Thursday.

Professors Friedrich Kießling and Christoph Safferling present their report
Professors Friedrich Kießling and Christoph Safferling present their report "State Security in the Cold War". Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Uwe Anspach

In the 600-page collection of findings entitled “State Security in the Cold War”, historian Friedrich Kiessling and legal scholar Christoph Safferling focused on the period from the early 1950s until 1974.

Their research found that between 1953 and 1959, around three in four top officials at the federal prosecutor’s office, which commissioned the report, had belonged to the Nazi party.

More than 80 percent had worked in Adolf Hitler’s justice apparatus, and it would take until 1972 before they were no longer in the majority.

“On the face of it they were highly competent lawyers… but that came against the backdrop of the death sentences and race laws in which they were involved,” said Margaretha Sudhof, state secretary at the justice ministry, unveiling the report.

“These are disturbing contradictions to which our country has long remained blind.”

‘Combat mission’

It was not until 1992, two years after Germany’s national reunification, that the last prosecutor with a fascist background left the office.

“There was no break, let alone a conscious break, with the Nazi past” at the federal prosecutor’s office, the authors concluded, stressing “the great and long continuity” of the functions held and “the high number” of officials involved in Hitler’s regime.

Chief federal prosecutor Peter Frank commissioned the study in 2017. The federal prosecutor’s office is one of Germany’s most powerful institutions, handling the most serious national security cases including those involving terrorism and espionage.

With more than 100 prosecutors, it is “the central actor in the fight against terror,” the report authors said, underlining its growing role in the decades since the September 11th, 2001 attacks in the United States.

The researchers were given unfettered access to hundreds of files labelled classified after the war, and found that rooting out alleged communists was often prioritised over other threats, including from the far right.

“In the 1950s the federal prosecutor’s office had a combat mission – not a legal but a political one: to pursue all the communists in the country,” the daily Süddeutsche Zeitung said in a summary of the report.

‘Recycling’ Nazis

The fact that West Germany widely used former officials from the Nazi regime in its post-war administration had long been known.

For example, Hans Globke served as chief of staff and a trusted confidant to former conservative West German chancellor Konrad Adenauer between 1953 and 1963 and was responsible for recruitment to top posts.

However, Globke had also been a senior civil servant in the Nazi-era interior ministry and was involved in the drafting of the 1935 Nuremberg race laws that imposed the first dramatic restrictions on Jews.

In recent years, systematic digging into the past of key ministries and institutions has unearthed a troubling and previously hidden degree of “recycling” of Third Reich officials in the post-war decades.

A 2016 government report revealed that in 1957, more than a decade after the war ended, around 77 percent of senior officials at the justice ministry had been members of the Nazi party. That study, also carried out by Safferling, revealed that the number of former Nazis at the ministry did not decline after the fall of the regime but actually grew in the 1950s.

Part of the justification was cynical pragmatism: the new republic needed experienced civil servants to establish the West German justice system. Furthermore, the priorities of the Allies who won the war and “liberated” the country from the Nazis were quickly turned upside down in the Cold War context.

After seeking to de-Nazify West Germany after 1945, the aim quickly shifted to building a capitalist bulwark against the communist threat. That approach often meant turning a blind eye to Germans’ previous involvement in the Third Reich.

In recent years, Germany has embarked on a twilight attempt to provide justice for concentration camp victims, placing several former guards in their 90s on trial for wartime crimes.

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