Regional chief who eulogized ex-Nazi rebuked

13th April 2007, Comments 0 comments

13 April 2007, Berlin (dpa) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel rebuked Baden-Wuerttemberg state premier Guenther Oettinger for eulogizing a Nazi-era military judge. Oettinger triggered outrage this week over his remarks at the funeral of an earlier premier of the same state, Hans Filbinger, whose lack of contrition over World War II actions has troubled their centre-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU). Up to his April 1 death at 93, Filbinger insisted it had been his duty on panels of naval judges to sen

13 April 2007

Berlin (dpa) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel rebuked Baden-Wuerttemberg state premier Guenther Oettinger for eulogizing a Nazi-era military judge.

Oettinger triggered outrage this week over his remarks at the funeral of an earlier premier of the same state, Hans Filbinger, whose lack of contrition over World War II actions has troubled their centre-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU).

Up to his April 1 death at 93, Filbinger insisted it had been his duty on panels of naval judges to sentence sailors to death for desertion. It remains unclear whether any were caught and shot.

Other speakers at the Wednesday funeral praised Filbinger's 1966- 1978 premiership while faulting his war record.

But Oettinger broke ranks, asserting to mourners that Oettinger had not been a Nazi, but "an opponent of the Nazi regime" who had no choice but to do as he was told under the dictatorship.

A spokesman for Merkel said she had telephoned premier Oettinger and told him, "I would have wished that in addition to praising the great achievements of Filbinger's life, the critical issues involving the Nazi period got a mention too."

Merkel said a more subtle eulogy was required out of respect for the feelings of the victims.

The premier of the prosperous south-west state has been among her more docile supporters within the CDU.

Oettinger has defended the eulogy in which he said Filbinger "did not have the liberty to decide that his critics claim he had," and "None of his verdicts actually led to anyone losing their life."

This has been debated ever since Filbinger's past was exposed, forcing him to step down in 1978.

One woman, Ursula Galke, asserted to a newspaper, Suedwestpresse, that Filbinger's was one of the signatures on the death warrant for her brother, who was executed in 1945. "I regard him as one of my brother's murderers," she said.

Charlotte Knobloch, president of the Council of German Jews, said portraying Filbinger as an opponent of the Nazis had been a "cruel perversion of historical reality." In Jerusalem, Simon Wiesenthal Centre head Efraim Zuroff demanded Friday Oettinger's resignation.

DPA

Subject: German news

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