Even today, nobody knows what happened to around 1.3 million Germans who went missing during the Second World War. The head of the organization that tries to find them admitted recently that their fates will never be cleared up.“We will no longer be able to clarify these fates,” said Thomas Huber, head of the Tracing Service which belongs to the German Red Cross, told the German Press Agency (DPA) in a report published on Tuesday.
The service has now agreed, after consultation with the Federal Interior Ministry that all attempts to trace the 1.3 million people whose fates have still not been cleared up will be discontinued at the end of 2032, Huber added.
Despite the fact that it is over 70 years since the end of the war, interest in knowing what happened to lost relatives is still high. According to Huber, the service received about 9,000 enquiries from grandchildren and children last year alone.
“For many relatives, this is still a black dot on the family map,” he said. In some instances, it’s as simple as a quick glance into files and the case is resolved. But other cases can last months.
Directly after the war, the German Tracing Service were searching for over 20 million people. By 1959 the large majority of these cases had been resolved, but there were still 2.5 million people whose fates had never been resolved. In total, some 300,000 missing children have been among the cases that were cleared up. In one success story that took place in 2010, two brothers were reunited after more than 60 years apart.
“Cases like that touch us,” said Huber.
Other tasks carried out by the Tracing Service include the international search for people connected to Germany in some way, including German citizens who are missing in disaster and conflict areas, as well as relatives of refugees living in Germany. The latter account for the majority of the approximate 1,200 search queries processed by the service in the first half of 2017.
Saudi Arabia spends hundreds of millions of euros on military equipment from Germany each year. More than 5,000 civilians have died in the proxy war between Riyadh and Tehran.
The German government said on Friday that it would “immediately” stop approving arms exports to anyone participating in the war in Yemen. The move would include Saudi Arabia, a major buyer of German weapons.
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman wrote on Twitter that Germany “isn’t taking any arms export decisions right now that aren’t in line with the results of the preliminary talks,” referring to coalition talks between Merkel’s center-right Christian Democrats (CDU) and the center-left Social Democrats (SPD).
Arms exports to nations with poor human rights records like Saudi Arabia and Qatar have been heavily criticized by opposition politicians in Berlin.
After a request from Left party lawmaker Stefan Liebich in the fall, Merkel’s government was forced to admit that it had nearly quintupled arms sales to Saudi Arabia and Egypt from 2016 to 2017.
Liebich said that Saudia Arabia and Egypt had to “to answer for the thousands of deaths from their dirty war in Yemen,” and called Berlin’s decision to sell weapons to those countries “reprehensible.”
Yemen’s ongoing civil conflict has pitted the country’s Riyadh-backed government against Iran-supported Houthi rebels, effectively becoming a proxy war between the regional rivals. Since the outbreak of violence in 2015, 10,000 people have been killed – more than half of them civilians.
DW: In your book, “Islam and Nazi Germany’s War,” you wrote about the policies of the Nazis towards Islamic political entities. What did these policies look like?
David Motadel: Tens of thousands of Muslims fought for the Nazis in World War Two. DW spoke with historian David Motadel about whether pragmatism or anti-Semitism drove Adolf Hitler’s overtures and why some Muslim leaders backed him.
At the height of the war in 1941-1942, when German troops entered Muslim-populated territories in the Balkans, North Africa, Crimea, and the Caucasus, and approached the Middle East and Central Asia, Berlin began to see Islam as politically significant. Nazi Germany made significant attempts to promote an alliance with the “Muslim world” against their alleged common enemies — the British Empire, the Soviet Union, America and Jews.
In the war zones, Germany engaged with a wide range of religious policies and propaganda to promote the Nazi regime as the patron of Islam. As early as 1941, the Wehrmacht distributed the military handbook “Islam” to train its soldiers to behave correctly towards Muslim populations. On the eastern Front, the Nazi occupiers ordered the rebuilding of mosques, prayer halls, and madrasas — previously destroyed by Moscow — and the re-establishment of religious rituals and celebrations in order to undermine Soviet rule.
German military authorities also made extensive efforts to co-opt Islamic dignitaries. German propagandists in the eastern territories, the Balkans, and North Africa tried to use religious rhetoric, vocabulary and iconography to mobilize Muslims. They politicized sacred texts like the Quran as well as religious imperatives, most notably the concept of jihad, in order to foment religious violence for political ends.
From 1941 onwards, the Nazi Wehrmacht army and the paramilitary SS recruited tens of thousands of Muslims, mainly to save German blood. Muslim soldiers fought on all fronts. German army officials granted these recruits a wide range of religious concessions, even lifting the ban on ritual slaughter, a practice that had been prohibited for anti-Semitic reasons by Hitler’s Law for the Protection of Animals of 1933.
A widespread assumption exists that Muslims supported the Nazi Regime because they shared an anti-Semitic perspective. This is precisely why the Nazis tried to get Muslims on the regime’s side. What can you tell us about this assumption?
On the German side pragmatic, strategic interests were the most important driving force behind this policy. In its propaganda, however, especially in the Arab world, anti-Semitic themes played an important role. Anti-Semitic propaganda was often connected to attacks against the Zionist migration to Palestine which had emerged as a main topic in Arab political discourses.
On the Muslim side one cannot generalize. Some of the Muslim allies of the Nazi regime — most importantly the famous Mufti of Jerusalem — shared the Nazis’ Jew-hatred. In the war zones, in the Balkans, in North Africa, and in the Eastern territories, the picture is more complicated. In many of these regions, Muslims and Jews had lived together for centuries. And in some cases, Muslims would now help their Jewish neighbors, for example hiding them from the Germans.
What goals did the Nazi regime pursue with its attempt to persuade Muslims to join them and what were sympathetic Muslim leaders hoping for?
The Third Reich’s engagement with Islam was not only that Muslim-populated regions had become part of the war zones, but also, more importantly, that from 1941 to 1942, Germany’s military situation had deteriorated. In the Soviet Union, Hitler’s Blitzkrieg strategy had failed. As the Wehrmacht came under pressure, strategists in Berlin began to seek broader war coalitions, thereby demonstrating remarkable pragmatism. The courtship of Muslims was to pacify the occupied Muslim-populated territories and to mobilize Muslims to fight on the side of Hitler’s armies.
Many of those Muslims who worked with the Nazi regime had pragmatic reasons. They believed that Nazi Germany in 1941-1942 would be victorious and that it would determine the future world order and that the Nazis could help them become liberated from, for example, British imperial rule.
The motives of these soldiers varied considerably. Of course some recruits were driven by religious hatred and anti-Bolshevist, ideological fervor. Overall, however, Muslims often had rather profane motives for enlisting.
Did the Nazis really see Islam as something inherently positive or were the Muslims only a means to an end?
Overall, I think that Muslims were means to an end. Nazi policies towards Islam were informed by pragmatism. Some leading Nazis, particularly Adolf Hitler and Heinrich Himmler, repeatedly expressed their respect for Islam. Whenever denouncing the Catholic Church, Hitler routinely contrasted it with Islam. While he denounced Catholicism as a weak, effeminate religion, he praised Islam as a strong, aggressive, martial religion. Overall, however, it was strategic considerations, not ideology, that led to Nazi Germany’s campaign for Islamic mobilization.
Wasn’t Nazi racism a major obstacle to collaborating with Muslims?
Hitler had already postulated the racial inferiority of non-European peoples in “Mein Kampf.” Once in power, however, German officials showed themselves to be more pragmatic: Non-Jewish Turks, Iranians and Arabs had already been explicitly exempted from any official racial discrimination in the 1930s, following diplomatic interventions from the governments in Tehran, Ankara, and Cairo. And during the war the Germans showed similar pragmatism. Muslims everywhere, it was clear to every German officer, were to be treated as allies.
The realities on the ground were by no means straightforward. In the first months of the Nazi invasion of Russia, SS squads executed thousands of Muslims on the assumption that their circumcision showed that they were Jewish. Eventually, Reinhard Heydrich, chief Nazi security officer, sent out a directive cautioning the task force executing squads to be more careful. On the southern fringes of the Soviet Union, however, German killing squads still had difficulties distinguishing Muslims from Jews. Moreover, in North Africa, the Balkans, and on the Eastern Front, German soldiers were confronted with diverse Muslim populations, including Muslim Roma and Jewish converts to Islam.
Dr. David Motadel is an Assistant Professor of International History at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He works on the history of modern Europe and Europe’s relations with the wider world. In 2017, Motadel was awarded the Philip Leverhulme Prize for History.
Public prosecutors in the German town of Celle have opened an investigation into a former SS man believed to have been involved in a 1944 massacre in France. The SS Panzerdivision of the Hitlerjugend killed 86 people.
A 94-year-old man from Nordstemmen, Lower Saxony, is under investigation for murder, Bernd Kolkmeier, spokesman for the local prosecution authority, confirmed on Monday after a report in the Hildesheimer Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper.
The prosecutors are examining whether the man will be charged with the shooting of women, men and children on the night of the April 2, 1944, in the village of Villeneuve d’Ascq near the city of Lille. On that date, the 12th SS Panzerdivision of the “Hitlerjugend” killed 86 men and women aged 15 to 75 years.
The spokesman could not say what exactly the suspect had done during the action in Villeneuve d’Ascq. “I do not want to anticipate the investigation,” he said.
The general public prosecutor responsible, Jens Lehmann, was also involved in the trial of the so-called “Auschwitz accountant” Oskar Gröning in Lüneburg.
Gröning was convicted of accessory to murder for his part in the so-called “Hungarian action,” when hundreds of thousands of Jewish people from Hungary were murdered at Auschwitz.
The conviction was confirmed by the Federal Court of Justice at the end of 2016. Other SS officers involved in the Holocaust have also been put on trial in recent years in an attempt to rectify decades of failure by the German judiciary to bring people directly involved in the Holocaust to justice.
Recently we started selling items on E-bay that have been donated to the society. Unfortunately we found out quickly that items featuring swastikas, SS runes, or anything featuring Third Reich insignia on German Heer (Army), Kriegsmarine (Navy), and Luftwaffe (Airforce) items will not be allowed for selling or purchase. E-Bay states items of Hate are not allowed. The final line crossed was when E-Bay banned a book featuring historic photos between German and Soviet Armies in World War II. So we are starting this petition due to their current and lax policies.
Many people enjoy history and in this enjoyment they collect items of history to learn, display, or just to collect. This is a fascination shared by many. Holding a piece of history is something many enjoy. On the flip side, this does not make these people Nazi’s, white supremacists, hated filled, or anti-semetic. Many of us had relatives that served in the wars of German History. This is to honor hard working, loyal citizens who served their country no matter the faults and evil’s of the government that had mislead them.
E-Bay used to allow the selling and purchase of such items then stopped due to complaints. Once again business is influenced by people who think we should all march the same line and be under another’s control for the supposed greater good. The market is awash with these items especially as the veterans leave the earth and pass the goods on to relatives who do not connect with history. Stores, antique dealers, flea markets, but one place is not allowed – E-Bay.
Another part of E-Bay’s polices is the lax control of the marketplace. You will find some items then others get banned or removed before the listing ends. E-Bay is being biased based on ‘ they can only control so much of millions on items’. Either be clear one way or the other.
The final line is BOOK BANNING. E-Bay listened to these complaints and banned Nazi Items. But books that do not support National Socialism directly are banned?
Here is the book that was banned: Images of War Series, Final Days of the Reich. This book features World War II photographs between the German and Soviet Armies. No support of Nazism in it.
Please support this petition. Once again Freedom is affected.
Ps. A note to E-Bay. If you are going to Ban Books. Is this not the same thing as burning books by the Nazi’s in the 1930’s? People cannot have FREEDOM to choose what they want to read AND make an opinion of there own based on what they read? CENSORSHIP. E-Bay and Nazism seem no Different.
This petition has irked myself and the society for some time. This petition made the news in the BBC so this is originally why it caught our attention. Basically the petitioner is stating the toys in the above picture are harmful to children. He states they represent the Waffen-SS and National Socialism. The BBC in their article also skewed the facts about the Iron Cross based on what the petitioner wrote( We already wrote the BBC). The petition is directed against Lego and Amazon to remove the toys from purchase. Many of the toys have been removed at this point.
This company which makes Lego styled figures also makes Allied figures. So basically you will have good versus bad taking on each other in a children’s mind. There are no Swastika’s/ SS Runes on any of these Lego figures which represent Nazi Germany. There is no support of National Socialism with these figures. We do understand that the figures could worry some parents so we are not insensitive to this. I think the parents (whom make the purchases) would decide if they want their children playing with such items. Instead this person wants to force his point of view on all parents. Does he not understand many toys are made representing Wehrmacht figures, vehicles, etc? Some of the figures do look like Heer (Army) figures in which there should be no issue.
Here is a sample of the petition that is unacceptable:
‘As you can easily see, these figures look similar to the original LEGO figures to deceive, but show National Socialist symbols such as the imperial eagle, the Iron Cross and the skulls on the collar. ‘
Imperial Eagle. He is referring to the Third Reich’s Reichsadler on the uniforms. By stating the ‘Imperial Eagle’, he is basically throwing in all of German History from the Holy Roman Empire to the Modern German Republic. Most people would think Imperial Germany under the Kaiser. This is a stain on the honorable Kaiser and his many loyal german volk.
The Iron Cross. This is some kind of ignorance here. There is no swastika in the pictures of the Iron Cross. The Third Reich Iron Crosses has swastika’s in the middle of them. He is taking all the Iron Crosses from the early 1800’s to modern Germany under this accusation. Currently the Bundeswehr (German Military) uses the Iron Cross as the emblem of the military on all the vehicles.
Skulls on the collar. This is another fabrication. There are none from what we have seen. It was not in best taste to feature Lego figures dressed in all black, but most historians will notice the Reichsadler on these figures is on the front of the uniform. The SS only featured them on their left arm.
So these figures must be censored due to one person’s opinion. Let’s discuss this person. He is a member of the left-wing scene and a registered Communist. So in our current weak, opinions get hurt easily society one person of less than desirable background will limit what you can buy, collect, etc.
We ask you to support this since we are going to petition Change.org against this petition for the lies presented and Amazon.com for worrying about one person’s lying opinion.
But here are the reasons we are against this:
The lies stated in the petition.
The lie in the BBC article.
Left-Wing Communist’s petition.
Amazon listening to one person.
Limiting everyone from purchasing what they would enjoy.
Once again the veterans of Germany from World War II are being bashed.
As you can easily see, these figures look similar to the original LEGO figures to deceive, but show National Socialist symbols such as the imperial eagle, the Iron Cross and the skulls on the collar.
In addition, the manufacturers of these figures often use the name LEGO in their product description or claim to use original LEGO parts.
These figures represent one of the most inhumane regimes in world history and by playing with them children accept these uniforms, weapons, etc. as normal, which is an unacceptable influence on the children. In addition, such figures pose a great threat to the reputation of the companies LEGO and AMAZON.
For this reason, I urge you to take action against the manufacturers of such characters, if possible legally, and also to make Amazon aware of this case, because any decent citizen can only be a horrible idea that such figures are soon under the Christmas tree could fall into the hands of children.
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Dear Ladies and Gentleman,
I write this very important letter.
Searching for LEGO figures on the German Amazon website, I found many examples of LEGO typed and compatible figures from other companies depicting German National Socialism Officers, Soldiers, etc.
Here is one figure, which stands as an example for many others:
As you can see, these figures look like the Nazi Eagle and skulls. In addition to that, LEGO parts are often used in their product description.
Depicting one of the most unhuman regimes in world history, these figures represent the most opposite to the values. LEGO stood for. Throughout playing with these figures, children accepting the depicted uniforms, weapons, etc. as normal and with that comes to extremely dangerous. After all, these figures are a threat to the good name of LEGO and AMAZON.
Therefore, I sincerely ask you to take action against children and to consider legally acting steps against the producers of these figures.
The death of “Butcher of Prague” Reinhard Heydrich – one of the most feared men in the Third Reich – meant the Nazis lost a key organizer of terror. Was he an ideological zealot or careerist aiming to be leader one day?
He was described by Adolf Hitler as “the Man with the Iron Heart.” Other names attributed to him include “the Butcher,” “the Hangman” and “Himmler’s Evil Genius.”
Given such epithets, it stands to reason that Reinhard Heydrich’s record is one of reprehensible brutality.
Heydrich, who led the Nazi Protection Squadron, or SS, and the Gestapo, also sent the telegraph giving the orders that precipitated 1938’s Kristallnacht pogrom against Jews in Germany.
As the lead planner of Hitler’s Final Solution, Heydrich chaired the Wannsee Conference – where details about the murder of millions of Jews across Nazi-occupied Europe was debated and toasted with cognac.
Heydrich was also regarded by some as a potential future leader of the Third Reich.
By the time of the assassination attack against Heydrich in May 1942, he was regional governor of the Nazis’ Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia – today’s Czech Republic. He died 75 years ago on June 4, 1942.
Only 11 years earlier, Heydrich had been dismissed from the navy for unbefitting conduct after breaking a marriage engagement. It had been a meteoric rise, as historian Robert Gerwarth points out in his book “Hitler’s Hangman: The Life of Heydrich.”
“His life is quite unusual – his career trajectory is quite unusual in the sense that he’s a late Nazi,” Gerwarth told DW.
“Most of the people who had comparable careers in the Third Reich were followers of Hitler from the early 1920s onwards,” he said. “In his case, it’s a relatively late conversion to Nazism.”
The largely apolitical Heydrich had broken his engagement after meeting his wife-to-be, Lina von Osten, a Nazi Party follower for some time. It was she who convinced him to apply to join the SS.
Heydrich’s rapid ascent was partly based on chance, a meeting with Heinrich Himmler, who was setting up a counterintelligence division of the service.
“The two men had what you might call complementary talents,” said Gerwarth, a professor of modern history at University College Dublin’s Centre for War Studies. “Himmler was very good at building networks, which was quintessential in Nazi Germany, and Heydrich was a talented organizer.
“The two managed to rise through the ranks so that by the mid-1930s, 1936 to be precise, Himmler controls the entire police in Germany, including the political police, and Heydrich is basically his No. 2.”
Convert or careerist?
Some historians have assumed that Heydrich was a careerist, but Gerwarth thinks not. Instead, he described Heydrich’s radicalism as that of an extremely ambitious late convert.
“I think that by the mid-1930s he is actually quite committed to the cause and he is a very devout follower of both Himmler and Hitler,” Gerwarth said. “They recognize that, and they advance his career steadily over time.”
Heydrich’s newly found political zeal saw him drive much of the anti-Jewish policy in the Third Reich. As well as his role in Kristallnacht, he oversaw the Einsatzgruppen, which murdered intellectuals and clergy in Czechoslovakia and Poland, which at the time were both occupied by the Nazis, then he moved on to Jews and Roma.
“By 1941 it’s become quite clear that Heydrich is the one driving anti-Jewish policies,” Gerwarth said. “He controls not only the political police organizations but also is twice entrusted by Hermann Goering as the kind of intermediary between him and Hitler to find and implement a Final Solution.
“The thing is of course that, in 1942, when he dies, most of the Jews who will die in the Holocaust are still alive,” Gerwarth said, adding that, although Heydrich was a central figure, “even without him the Holocaust continued to unfold.”
A prime target
The attack that would ultimately lead to his death was instigated by Czech intelligence with support from Britain’s Special Operations Executive. It gained approval from Czechoslovakia’s government-in-exile and planning began well in advance.
After two aborted attempts, the attack that killed Heydrich took place on May 27, 1942. Slovak Jozef Gabcik and Czech Jan Kubis – who had been flown to Czechoslovakia the previous December carried it out.
Heydrich was on his daily commute from home. The pair hoped to kill their target at a curve in the road and Gabcik stepped in front of the vehicle with his submachine gun. It jammed, and Heydrich ordered the car to stop, pointing a handgun at his would-be assailant.
It was here that Kubis threw a grenade that fatally injured Heydrich, who did not die until a week later. The Nazi leadership was outraged by what had happened.
“This is a very serious blow, and both Hitler and Himmler were very angry and shocked,” Gerwarth said. “It showed a vulnerability that they didn’t want, but also they’re losing one of the most important organizers of terror. It was a huge blow.”
“The underground movement, the resistance in Bohemia and Moravia, was not informed about this at all,” Gerwarth said. “They only found out by chance just before the assassination, and were horrified because they knew the ramifications would be terrible.”
Indeed, the consequences were horrific for the village of Lidice, which was falsely linked to the assassination. Of its residents, 199 men were killed and 195 women sent to Ravensbrück concentration camp. A further 81 children died in gas vans.
The men and women of another village, Lezaky, were also murdered.
The assassination itself has also been retold in several movies. The 75th anniversary itself seems to have created some interest with one film – “Anthropoid” – released less than a year ago and another – “HHhH,” also titled “The Man With The Iron Heart” – slated for release later this month.
Visions of power?
Whether Heydrich had visions of ever becoming leader of the Third Reich is open to speculation.
In his book “Fatherland,” Robert Harris penned a vision of a world where Heydrich survives into the 1960s and is seen as the likely successor to Hitler. It deals with Heydrich’s imagined Machiavellian attempts to cover up the fate of murdered European Jews.
Amazon’s series “The Man in the High Castle,” loosely based on a book of the same name by Philip K. Dick, envisions a world where the Nazi Reich occupies much of the United States, and where Heydrich is vying to replace an ailing Hitler.
Gerwarth, though, said he harbors some doubt that was ever in Heydrich’s plan.
“It’s uncertain exactly what he aspired to. He didn’t really like to be a public figure, and he found that part of the job difficult in Prague,” Gerwarth said. “He’s not really someone for big public speeches. He’s someone who operates in the shadows, so I think his career objective would have been to succeed Himmler, which is a more realistic scenario.”
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