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New study confirms German foreign ministry culpability in Holocaust

BERLIN — Attempts to portray the German foreign ministry under Nazi rule as disapproving of, or independent from, Adolf Hitler's genocide against the Jews were blown apart Saturday by a new report from historians to be published in full later this week.

The former Green party foreign minister, Joschka Fischer, commissioned historians in 2005 to investigate the exact role of the foreign ministry during the Nazi dictatorship of 1933-45.

That report is to confirm diplomats actively assisted the Nazi Holocaust, Speigel newsmagazine reported Saturday.

"The Foreign Ministry was a criminal organization," Spiegel quoted the chairman of the panel, Eckart Conze, saying.

The historian said the foreign ministry supported Nazi violence at every point and played a key role in killing the Jews of Europe.

Conze said claims in the post-war period that officials had resisted the will of the Nazi Party were false: In fact, the ministry usually helped the Nazis even before it was asked to.

A similar account of the findings was to appear today in the newspaper Frankfurt Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung. The panel of historians is expected to unveil the report publicly in the coming week.

The controversy is partly kept alive by the fact that many Nazi-era diplomats were given jobs again after the war — with many claiming they had secretly loathed the Nazis.

"The Foreign Ministry was actively involved in every operation to persecute, strip away the rights of, expel and exterminate the Jews from the very beginning," Conze told the newspaper.

After 1945, as it continued with many of the same personnel as before, the ministry worked to obscure that fact. Many German diplomats then claimed their loyalty had been to the Fatherland, not the Nazis, and that they ignored the dictator when they could.

The Frankfurt Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung quoted Fischer saying, "As I read this report, I became more and more shocked as I went along."

Fischer said he was horrified at the ministry's assistance after the war to suspected German war criminals. It had advised the wanted men about which countries they must avoid traveling to because of the risk of arrest.

After World War II only the Nazi elite were put on trial, and many institutions re-staffed with Nazi-era personnel still in place. For many, a mantle of silence fell over their pasts. Since the 1960s Germans have engaged in agonizing debate over the duplicity of that era.

Over the past two decades, major German institutions, including the churches and major business corporations, funded investigations to uncover and make amends for their complicity in the Holocaust.

Diplomats refused to, until Fischer complained that the ministry was writing admiring obituaries for Nazis.

New study confirms German foreign ministry culpability in Holocaust 10/23/10 [Last modified: Saturday, October 23, 2010 11:47pm]
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