Fischer sacks ambassador over critical letter

15th April 2005, Comments 0 comments

15 April 2005, BERLIN - German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer has sacked his ambassador to Switzerland, Frank Elbe, following public criticism aimed at Fischer by the envoy, a ministry spokeswoman said on Thursday.

15 April 2005

BERLIN - German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer has sacked his ambassador to Switzerland, Frank Elbe, following public criticism aimed at Fischer by the envoy, a ministry spokeswoman said on Thursday.

Elbe sharply criticised his boss after Fischer ordered a halt to the publication of death notices for diplomats who had been Nazi party members.

The ambassador, in a letter published by the mass tabloid Bild, warned that Fischer was dividing the German foreign ministry and slammed the ministry's crisis management as "miserable".

The paper quoted Elbe as saying Fischer's decision to stop publishing obituaries for diplomats who were members of Adolf Hitler's Nazi party amounted to smearing them as Nazi supporters.

More than 70 German diplomats have signed a protest letter, due to be published next month, which is aimed at Fischer for his decision to halt the obituaries.

His decision came after a German diplomat, Frank Nuesslein who was convicted of war crimes after serving as a Third Reich judge in German-occupied Czechoslovakia, had his past whitewashed out of a ministry death notice in 2003.

Fischer vowed this must never happen again and has called for a special commission to investigate the German foreign ministry's use of Nazi era diplomats in the post-war era.

While the case of Nuesslein is clear-cut, historians generally warn that mere membership of the Nazi party is not enough to establish guilt.

The obituary row comes as Fischer faces strong pressure over an illegal visa scandal which has already led to the resignation of one of his deputy ministers.

Under orders from Fischer, the issuance of visas for visitors to Germany from eastern Europe, the Middle East and Asia was radically liberalised from 2000 until 2003 when the policy was abruptly halted after massive abuses.

Hundreds of thousands of illegal workers including prostitutes from countries like the Ukraine are alleged to have come to Germany under the visa programme.

A parliamentary probe is ongoing and Fischer is due to testify later this month.

DPA

Subject: German news

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