Tuesday, December 9, 2014


By Emery Barcs 1968-9-20

AFTER 23 years of spurious excuses and double-talk the Soviet authorities have now agreed to allow West German war crime investigators to search Nazi documents which the Russians seized in Germany after the end of World War II.  The West Germans want to see these papers to uncover war crimes which have not yet been punished and bring the criminals to court.

Although the Soviet Government has taken plenty of time to make up its mind it has still not said whether the eight West Germans who will work in Moscow will be allowed to see all the papers, not merely some selected by Soviet officials for perusal.

Normal logic suggests that the Soviets would have every interest in helping to hunt down Nazi criminals by opening their archives to West German investigators and in raising hell if justice were not done despite incriminating proofs.

But apart from their habitual secretiveness the men in the Kremlin had a reason for not wanting to show what they had

In this way they could -- and indeed did -- open their cupboards and fish out a document whenever a former Nazi Party member, who had managed to conceal his past, rose to some prominence in the West German Federal Republic.


Four years ago when the Statute of Limitations for war crimes (20 years) was about to expire in West Germany, and the danger arose that Nazi criminals could escape scot free from the consequences of their deeds, Bonn asked all interested governments to reveal all relevant material in their possession to enable the West German authorities to prosecute the culprits.

Some countries -- including Czechoslovakia and Poland -- agreed to admit West German investigators.  But the Soviet Union and East Germany which probably have the largest number and the most important documents in their archives refused to comply with the request.

In January, 1965, the Soviet Government even charged the West German Government with duplicity, saying that Bonn only wanted to know the contents of certain documents to amnesty the "Fascist murderers" and not to punish them.

(Eventually the Statute of Limitations on war crimes was extended so that now no escape from punishment is possible.)

East Germany acted likewise. Clearly, neither Moscow nor East Berlin were primarily concerned with punishment for the Nazi criminals. They wanted to gain political profit from their hoard of documents whenever the opportunity arose.


The East Germans, however, had another motive for refusing to divulge their documentary proofs on Nazis. For throwing open their archives would have revealed that former Nazis did not manage to rise to positions of importance only in West Germany, but also in the allegedly untainted "Democratic" Republic.

Of course, the names of a number of East Germans who had been prominent Nazis under Hitler and who have been equally prominent Communists under Ulbricht were well known. But the point is that perusal of the documents held by East Germany would have unearthed additional names.

On June 11, 1965, the English language propaganda sheet of the East German Government, the Democratic German Report, edited by an Englishman and published in East Berlin, explained why former Nazis were allowed to hold positions in the German "Democratic" Republic.

After asserting that no "leading figures" in the East German army and judiciary were ex-Nazis, the paper continued: "There are, however, a number of people in posts of responsibility who were in fact members of the Nazi Party. The Minister of Culture appears on the rolls of Nazi Party members; he was 18 when the war ended.  "The Minister of Agriculture was 20 when the war ended. Both these men can be truly described as "nominal Nazis." They had no real choice in the matter.

"A few former Nazi Party members who broke with Hitler in 1943 and played a prominent part in the 'Free Germany National Committee' formed in the Soviet Union, and took part in dangerous front - line work against Hitler are also in leading posts; most prominent of them is Heinrich Homann, a deputy chairman of the State Council, who was sentenced to death by the Nazis in absentia."

This would be fair enough if the Soviets and the East Germans applied the same standards in East Germany and in West Germany to ex-Nazis who joined the party as mere boys or who eventually turned against Hitler although 1943 seems a bit late in the day.

But Moscow and East Berlin apply blatant double-standards. Disillusioned former Nazis are all right as long as they now help build Communism in East Germany. But they are incorrigible Fascist criminals if they live in West Germany.


Of course, quite a few Nazis who have or had managed to hide their past did commit crimes under the Hitler era. And they should be called to account for their deeds no matter on which side of the border they live.

Strangely, however, the Ulbricht regime keeps employing a number of prominent former Nazis who did not show any aversion to the Fuehrer until well after his defeat in 1945.

On September 6, Simon Wiesenthal, the famous Viennese "Nazi-hunter," who has done much to bring prominent war criminals before justice, published a list of 39 prominent ex-Nazis who are now playing leading roles in East Germany's propaganda organisations. The names include:

Kurt Blecha, now chief of the Press Bureau of the East German Council of Ministers.

Hans Walter, a former Gestapo agent and now editor-in-chief of the official foreign politics weekly, Deutsche Aussenpolitik.

Horst Dressler-Andress, former president of the Nazi Reichs Broadcasting Chamber and at present a member of the East German Socialist Unity Party's (Communists) Agitation and Propaganda Department.

None of these gentlemen had ever cared to admit his former adherence to Hitler's propaganda organisation. They do, however, continue to write the sort of language which was fashionable in the Third Reich.

For example, just before the Warsaw Pact countries' invasion of Czechoslovakia the official East German Communist Party daily Neue Deutschland (New Germany) of East Berlin appeared with the front-page headline: "Zionism Now Rules in Prague."

Thirty years ago, before the Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia, Hitler's official daily, the Voelkischer Beobachter, published a similar headline on its front page: "Jews Now Rule in Prague."

If the Soviets now permit the West German investigators to peruse all Nazi documents in their possession it is quite likely that a number of crimes will be detected; crimes whose perpetrators may now live anywhere -- including East and West Germany.  Some of these may even hold responsible positions in either country.

But just 'because of the very likely chance of upsetting discoveries of this kind in the Federal Republic and in East Germany no one would be surprised if the investigators in Moscow were handed carefully selected documents which proved that all former war-criminals are to be found in the West and that none had contaminated the East.

If this happens one can be sure of the subsequent chanting of the comrades: "Didn't we say so..."

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