Conservatives under fire for Holocaust law

18th June 2004, Comments 0 comments

18 June 2004, BERLIN - Germany's ruling coalition parties have vowed to fight conservative opposition legislation that has come under fire from Jewish leaders for equating the Holocaust with crimes by the East German Communist regime.

18 June 2004

BERLIN - Germany's ruling coalition parties have vowed to fight conservative opposition legislation that has come under fire from Jewish leaders for equating the Holocaust with crimes by the East German Communist regime.

Parliamentary leaders of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) and the Greens said the legislation would not have a majority in the Bundestag lower house of parliament and should be withdrawn.

At issue is legislation by Christian Democrats and the Christian Social Union (CDU-CSU) that would coordinate national memorials to victims of Communist oppression.

Jewish leaders fear the legislation would equate the suffering of East Germans under Communism with the suffering of Jews during the Holocaust.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center also called on Germany's conservative opposition to drop the proposed legislation and conservative leader Angela Merkel was obliged to call a top official at the World Jewish Council (WJC) in Brussels in a bid to defuse the issue.

The legislation was debated in the Bundestag parliament Thursday, the 51st anniversary of the June 17, 1953, workers' uprising in East Berlin that was crushed by Soviet tanks.

In a statement issued in Jerusalem by the Center's chief Nazi- hunter Dr. Efraim Zuroff, the Wiesenthal Center said the proposal could blur important distinctions between the cruel and inhuman policies of the two totalitarian regimes as well as the suffering of their victims.

It accused the CDU-CSU of seeking to relativise Holocaust crimes, which it said would be "a step towards partial denial".

German Jewish leaders also joined the outcry against the legislation.

"It would put the crimes of the Nazis on an even setting with the crimes of the East German Communist regime," said Salomon Korn, vice president of the Council of German Jews.

Under mounting pressure, CDU head Merkel called WJC Executive Director Maram Stern to discuss the issue and give reassurances that no attempt was being made to play down the Holocaust.

CDU Bundestag Whip Guenter Nooke earlier issued a statement saying, "the goal of this legislation is to begin to come to terms with what transpired under the East German regime."

"We have already done this with the Holocaust but are only just beginning to grapple with the suffering of 16 million East Germans," he said.

DPA

Subject: German news

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