Posts Tagged ‘German’

Spain’s Nazi volunteers defend their right to recognition – and German pensions

November 30th, 2015

In total, Germany is still funding more €100,000 (£70,000) a year in pensions to the Blue Division. The payments, which typically run to around €400 per month, go mostly to men who were injured in the course of duty, and in some cases to their relatives. MP Andrej Hunko, the Left-wing MP whose parliamentary question brought about the revelation from Angela Merkel’s administration, now wants the arrangement halted.

But volunteers at a museum in Madrid that commemorates the 47,000 Spaniards who fought on the Eastern Front insist that however history may now interpret events, the payments are entirely legitimate.

“It’s a pension for maimed soldiers, a normal humane thing,” said Ignacio Martín, whose late father, Carlos Martín Monasterios, was unable to use his right arm properly due a shrapnel wound suffered while fighting for the Germans between 1942 and 1943.

Alfonso Ruiz (centre) and Juan Serrano (right) in a recent reunion

The pensions stem from a 1962 agreement between the Federal Republic of Germany and Franco’s Spain, under which Spain also agreed to pay money widows of Germany’s Condor Legion, the unit sent by Hitler to assist Franco’s side in Spain’s 1936-1939 civil war.

A source from Spain’s labour ministry told The Telegraph that, unlike Germany, Spain no longer honoured the 1962 deal and had not paid these pensions since Franco’s death in 1975. “Some applications have been received but they were rejected,” the source said.

‘People were really hungry, especially in the cities. If Franco hadn’t sent the division, Hitler would have invaded Spain’

For Alfonso Ruiz, vice president of the Blue Division Foundation which runs the museum, the criticism of Blue Division pensions is disrespectful to men who showed bravery in fighting for a cause they believed in. “It’s a disgrace that they want to take away pensions of no more than €400 a month from these men when immigrants just turn up in this country and get more.”

Mr Ruiz, whose father is among the estimated 200 volunteers who remain alive, said that since he took over day-to-day control of the foundation in 2011, he had taken care to sever any remaining links to far-Right organisations.

This included the remnants of the fascist Falange, whose blue shirts gave the name to the division. “People come in here expecting to see skinheads but it’s nothing like that,” he said.

Survivors meet on February 10 each year to mark the date in 1943 of the Battle of Krasny-Bor, when 70 per cent of the men in service were lost trying to halt the Soviet offensive around Leningrad. “I tell the younger people not to sing [the Falangist anthem] ‘Cara al sol’ and not to stiff-arm salute. But if some of the veterans do so, what can I say to men who are more than 90 years old?” said Mr Ruiz.

With Spain on its knees after the civil war, many Blue Division volunteers felt that they were helping General Franco to keep it out of the Second World War.

‘We were not Nazis, but we were Germanophiles’

“If Franco hadn’t sent the division, Hitler would have invaded Spain,” said Mr Serrano, who has not personally received a pension, but who is sympathetic to the cause of those who do. “Everyone in my house was with the Falange; I had grown up drinking that in.”

Historians have suggested that the Spanish soldiers, though guilty of a share of atrocities in the harsh conditions of the Eastern Front, conducted themselves better than their Nazi allies.

But when fortune began to turn against Hitler’s forces, however, Mr Serrano noted a change in attitudes towards him and his comrades. “The second time I was injured, a Madrid military hospital refused to even treat me. Our efforts were only ever recognised by Germany.”


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Royal Navy detonates huge WWII German mine in Solent

November 27th, 2015

The Royal Navy has released footage of the moment it blew up a 1,500lb German mine in the Solent.

The mine was reportedly found by a crane barge that was dredging the strait.


The moment of the controlled explosion in the Solent

The device, which dated from the Second World War, was towed to open water before being detonated.

The video of the explosion shows the power of the mine blowing up a plume of water high into the air.

These mines were laid in their thousands during WWII but are rarely encountered these days – it’s only the second one we have dealt with in three years

Petty Officer (Diver) Richard Ellis, Bomb Disposal team leader

In a statement Petty Officer (Diver) Richard Ellis said: “These mines were laid in their thousands during WWII but are rarely encountered these days – it’s only the second one we have dealt with in three years. The other one was in the mouth of the Thames.

“The mine was in quite good condition, and they were engineered to a very high standard which is probably why it has stayed safe all these years.”

The explosion created a plume almost 1,000ft high.

Bomb squad called in after mother finds her flower vase was an unexploded WW2 shell
Unexploded Second World War bomb near Wembley Stadium poses ‘genuine risk to life’


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German ‘Nazi grandma’ sentenced to 10 months in prison for Holocaust denial

November 24th, 2015

Haverbeck was dragged back into court after she went on television in April to declare that “the Holocaust is the biggest and most sustainable lie in history”.

Unapologetic for her comment, she had told the court cheerfully, “yes I said that indeed”, according to media reports.

Haverbeck went as far as to challenge the court in the northern city of Hamburg to prove that Auschwitz was a death camp, prompting ruling magistrate Bjoern Joensson to say “it is pointless holding a debate with someone who can’t accept any facts”.

“Neither do I have to prove to you that the world is round,” he added.

Issuing his ruling on Thursday, Mr Joensson said: “It is deplorable that this woman, who is still so active given her age, uses her energy to spread such hair-raising nonsense.

“She is a lost cause,” he added.

Nevertheless, the recalcitrant Holocaust denier is not without supporters.

At the trial anti-far-right activists had arrived in force to occupy most benches in the courtroom, Haverbeck’s supporters were shouting outside: “Let us in.”

She left the courtroom to applause.

“Of course” they won’t accept this sentence, the Tageszeitung newspaper quoted her as saying.

Some 1.1 million people, most of them European Jews, perished between 1940 and 1945 in the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp before it was liberated by Soviet forces.


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Anti-immigrant Pegida leader causes outrage by comparing German justice minister to Goebbels

November 3rd, 2015

Mr Maas has accused Pegida of racial incitement and said its followers should be held responsible for attacks on refugee shelters.

Mr Maas sought to downplay the incident, declining to respond and saying he would not take action for libel.

But German prosecutors said they had opened a new investigation into Mr Bachmann for inciting hatred over the remarks.

And Mr Maas’ Social Democrat party colleagues rounded on Mr Bachmann.

“A crazed fascist compared a thoroughly decent man like Heiko Maas to the chief ideologue of the Third Reich? That’s perfidious and loathsome Pied Piperism, you can’t sink any lower,” Yasmin Fahimi, the party general secretary said.

Pegida has been making a comeback on a wave of opposition to Angela Merkel’s refugee policy, and drew some 20,000 people to the streets of Dresden to mark the anniversary of its first march two weeks ago.

But critics including Mr Maas say the movement has become openly far-Right, and Sigmar Gabriel, the vice-chancellor, has accused it of using the “language of the Nazi party”.

A guest speaker at a recent rally was widely condemned after he expressed regret that “the concentration camps are out of action” and could not be used to control Germany’s Muslim population.

Mr Bachmann has already been charged with inciting hatred over social media posts he made describing immigrants as “filth” and “cattle”.

He has claimed the notorious “Hitler selfie” that emerged of him in January was forged and that the moustache was digitally added.


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German school teacher ‘made children sing Nazi propaganda song’

April 17th, 2015

However the teacher’s actions may not have been as controversial as they at first appeared.

Although the song is illegal in Germany, there is an exemption when it is sung for educational purposes.

Moreover, the teacher has reportedly told police she was teaching a well-known parody of the song written by the playwright Bertolt Brecht.


Horst Wessel, German Nazi activist (Alamy)

She claims she only got her pupils to hum the melody and tap their feet to the rhythm

Entitled the Kälbermarsch, or Calves’ March, the Brecht parody includes the lines “The butcher calls! The eyes tightly closed/The calf marches with quiet, steady step”.

“The Kälbermarsch cannot be understood without the Horst Wessel Song,” a spokesman for the Berlin Senate Department for Education told reporters.

Police say the case has been referred to be prosecutors, who will now decide whether to take any further action.


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Allied soldiers ‘raped hundreds of thousands of German women’ after WW2

March 6th, 2015

“The saddest event during the advance were three rapes, one on a married woman, one on a single woman and one on a spotless girl of 16-and-a-half. They were committed by heavily drunk Americans,” wrote one of the priests, Fr Andreas Weingand, in July 1945.

She said she had also studied the records of “war children”, the illegitimate children born to German mothers and Allied fathers, and assumed that there had been 100 rapes for each birth, coming up with a figure of 190,000 rapes by American soldiers alone.

But Antony Beevor, the author of The Second World War, said Prof Gerhardt’s methodology was “ludicrous”.

“It’s almost impossible to come up with figures, but I think to say there were hundreds of thousands is a great exaggeration,” he said.

“If she’s doing it on the basis of illegitimate children that’s ludicrous,” Prof Beevor said. “There was a huge amount of voluntary sex. There were vast numbers of cases of genuine fraternisation. Many young women were hanging around outside the gates of American camps.” The most notorious instances of rape by Western Allied forces were by French troops during the sack of Stuttgart.

Of the Allies, British troops appear to have been responsible for the least rapes.

“Not because of any morality or respect for woman, but because the NCOs wouldn’t allow the soldiers to go off on their own,” Prof Beevor said.

He added that Soviet archives had confirmed that around two million German women had been raped by Soviet soldiers, while Prof Gerdhardt put the figure at 500,000.


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German court throws out Nazi massacre case

December 10th, 2014

On June 10, 1944, the SS sealed off the village and ordered the people to assemble in the square. The women and children were locked in the church while the men were herded into barns and sheds and machine-gunned. According to a survivor, the SS aimed at their legs so they would die slowly.

The SS then set fire to the church where the women and children were locked in. Those who tried to escape through the windows were shot dead. A total of 247 women and 205 children were killed.

A downed US airman who visited the village shortly afterwards described seeing “one baby who had been crucified”, according to declassified military documents.

Although the massacre was well documented, few perpetrators were held to account. A trial in France in 1953 was torn apart by acrimony because some of the accused were French nationals from Alsace and claimed to have been drafted into the SS by force. Although 20 men were found guilty, and two were sentenced to death, all were later released.

The SS general in charge of the unit that carried out the massacre, Heinz Lammerding, was tried in absentia but France never secured his extradition, and he died in his bed in 1971. In a separate case, one SS officer, Heinz Barth, was tried in East Germany in 1983 and served 14 years in prison for his part in the atrocity.

German prosecutors reopened the case in 2010 in an effort to bring more of those involved to justice, but only pursued charges in the case of the 89-year-old, who has now been cleared.

Werner C, who was 19 years old at the time of the massacre, was accused of shooting 25 men and being an accessory to the murder of the women and children in the church.

But the court ruled there was no evidence to contradict his version of events, that he was in Oradour at the time but did not fire a shot or take part in the massacre.


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German police ‘have leads’ on Dachau sign theft

November 4th, 2014

It remains unclear why the Nazis erected signs reading “Work sets you free” at the entrances to concentration camps where millions were sent to die, but they have become such a potent symbol of the suffering of Holocaust victims that Poland declared a national emergency when the Auschwitz sign was removed.

It was found three days later, cut into pieces, and later restored. Hoegstroem and the five Polish thieves were convicted and imprisoned.

The theft of the sign at Dachau has caused widespread revulsion. “This desecration is horrible and shocking,” the president of Germany’s Central Council of Jews, Dieter Graumann, told Bild newspaper. “Whoever did something like this is either sick or evil. Probably both.”

The head of the Dachau memorial centre, Gabriele Hermann, called the theft a “deliberate, reprehensible attempt to deny and obliterate the memory of the crimes committed in this place”.

More than 200,000 prisoners were held at Dachau. It was originally intended to hold political prisoners,and later used for to hold slave labourers and Jews. There were 32,000 documented deaths at Dachau, and thousands more that were not recorded.


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German U-boat wreck discovered off North Carolina coast

October 23rd, 2014

“As we learn more about the underwater battlefield, Bluefields and U-576 will provide additional insight into a relatively little-known chapter in American history.”

Bluefields, a Nicaraguan-flagged freighter, was part of a KS-520, a 19-strong convoy of merchant ships which set sail from Norfolk, Virginia to Key West, Florida with vital cargo for the war effort.

By July 1942 the Americans had set up a convoy system, backed with air support, to protect the vessels which had repeatedly fallen prey to U-Boat attacks.

U-576, skippered by Kapitanleutnant Hans-Dieter Heinkicke, had already been hit and the submarine was sailing back to Europe when it came across the convoy.

It was a chance to claim a final scalp before crossing the Atlantic and sailing home.

Despite being hit by eight depth charges U-576 fired off its torpedoes, sinking the freighter and damaging two other ships.

The submarine came under further fire and was sunk with all 45 crew on board perishing. None of those aboard the Bluefields died.

Other U-boats got far closer, in many cases within sight of land. One was said to have been near enough to Manhattan to see the lights from the skyscrapers.

And it is believed that the Germans succeeded in landing some agents on American soil, including spies who managed to set foot on Maine. According to local folklore they had learned their English from Hollywood gangster movies.

“We think there are around 52 wrecks within 40 miles of the North Carolina coast,” said Joe Hoyt, a maritime archeologist with the marine sanctuary.

The task of finding them has entailed trawling through the “after action” reports compiled by the escort vessels used to protect the convoys.

Based on this information, Mr Hoyt and his fellow researchers have spent the last five years scouring the area using sonar to track sunken vessels.

“This is not just the discovery of a single shipwreck, we have discovered an important battle site that is part of the Battle of the Atlantic,” said Mr Hoyt.

He added: “These two ships rest only a few hundred yards apart and together help us interpret and share their forgotten stories.”

John Bright, another researcher with the project, said that Americans were still unaware of the extent to which the German navy penetrated the country’s naval defences, wreaking havoc on merchant shipping.

“It some cases the U-boats could even see the lights of cars on the road,” said Mr Bright.

“The lights from the cities helped them because it would mean the U-boats could see the silhouette of the cargo ships and plot their ambush.”

July 1942 saw particularly fierce battles as the US navy bolstered the protection it offered to the convoys, with the German U-boat fleet suffering badly.

“They did what we would not call a cost-benefit analysis,” Mr Bright added.

“They moved away from the American coast and shifted to the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico where the merchant shipping was less well protected.”


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German minister compares Vladimir Putin to Adolf Hitler

April 5th, 2014

The Russian foreign ministry summoned the German ambassador to complain on Thursday.

“We consider this kind of pseudo-historical excursion from the German minister to be a provocation,” the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement. “This analogy is a crude distortion of historical events and facts. An official occupying such a high placed position must give an account of his words,” the statement added.

Bernd Reixinger, the leader of Germany’s Left Party, demanded that Mr Schauble apologise to Russia for his “tasteless” remarks. Ralf Stegner, a senior Social Democrat MP described the finance minister’s comparison as “definitely not useful”.

Chancellor Merkel has said that the annexation of Crimea is in clear breach of international law. However, she has distanced herself from Mr Schauble’s comparison and insisted that it is an action which “stands for itself”.

Pro-Russian activists wave Russian flags during a rally in Donetsk, Crimea (AFP)

Mr Schauble told the German television channel ARD on Thursday: “I am not so stupid as to compare someone with Hitler.” He said his remarks had been quoted “in isolation” and out of context.

But in Russia that was cast as a “refusal to apologise”.

In March a Russian history professor lost his job after making direct comparisons between the Crimean annexation and Hitler’s take over of Austria in 1938.

Andrei Zubov, a professor at Moscow’s Institute of International Relations, wrote in an article in the Vedomosti business daily headlined “It’s Happened Before” that Russia could be on the brink of war and that “we must not behave the way Germans once behaved, based on the promises of Goebbels and Hitler”.

The university, which is formally part of the Russian foreign ministry, said Mr Zubov’s public comments about the Crimean affair were “harming the learning environment,” and he was fired for “knowingly and repeatedly” violating the institute’s charter and code of conduct.


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