German coalition moves to lift Nazi-era convictions

6th July 2009, Comments 0 comments

The draft law should reach parliament this week and come up for a vote on August 26, the Social Democrats' parliamentary group whip Thomas Oppermann said.

Berlin -- Germany's ruling coalition plans to pass a law lifting Nazi-era convictions of so-called wartime traitors after a more than 60-year wait, a leading deputy said last week.

The draft law should reach parliament this week and come up for a vote on August 26, the Social Democrats' parliamentary group whip Thomas Oppermann said.

"Those affected are all victims of the Nazis' despotic regime," Oppermann told reporters. "The verdicts can now all be lifted."

The parliamentary group leader of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Union, Volker Kauder, said the conservatives would meet with the Social Democrats, junior partners in the "grand coalition," to hammer out the details.

Nazi military tribunals sentenced some 30,000 people to death for desertion or treason, of whom some 20,000 people were executed, according to historians cited by the online service of Der Spiegel news weekly.

Judges under the Third Reich handed down such convictions for offences including political resistance -- even critical remarks about the Nazis made in private -- or helping persecuted Jews.

In 2002, parliament wiped the convictions of deserters and conscientious objectors from the books but not those of "wartime traitors."

Since then, there had been repeated attempts to introduce legislation but no clear majority in parliament could be reached.

Conservatives had called for a case-by-case review as opposed to a blanket amnesty to determine whether there had been "legitimate" convictions.

Advocates of full rehabilitation, however, say the Nazis' military laws were fundamentally flawed because they were so vague as to be open to extremely broad interpretation and automatically carried the death penalty.

Historians and family members of the convicted have long called for the official rehabilitation. Only a handful of those convicted but not executed are still alive today.

AFP/Expatica

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