Row over Nazi war criminal portrait in embassy

3rd July 2006, Comments 0 comments

3 July 2006, BERLIN - An oil painting in the German embassy in London of a former ambassador who was later convicted of war crimes is to have an explanatory plaque attached to it, a Foreign Office official said in Berlin Saturday.

3 July 2006

BERLIN - An oil painting in the German embassy in London of a former ambassador who was later convicted of war crimes is to have an explanatory plaque attached to it, a Foreign Office official said in Berlin Saturday.

He spoke after the news magazine Der Spiegel had reported the cancellation of plans to completely remove the image of the disgraced Baron Konstantin von Neurath, which hangs in a corridor among other pictures of previous ambassadors to the Court of St James.

The spokesman said it had been decided to attach a little plaque with biographical information, with assistance from the German History Institute in London. The painting hangs just outside the office of the current ambassador, Wolfgang Ischinger.

Germany's conservative diplomatic service has been under pressure at home for several years to expose past diplomats' links with the Nazis. Von Neurath, ambassador to London from 1930 to 1932, was later the first foreign minister under dictator Adolf Hitler.

He was the Nazi governor, or "protector", of occupied Bohemia and Moravia and was sentenced to 15 years in prison by the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal in 1946 for crimes against humanity. He was released in 1954 because of illness and died in 1956.

Der Spiegel reported it had been planned to quietly take away the portrait at the time when Ischinger took over earlier this year, but instead, some data about von Neurath would be hung on the wall.

The spokesman declined to confirm that there had been debate for months in the diplomatic service about the picture as Der Spiegel had reported. He said the Foreign Office had been in discussion with a committee of historians who are exploring the service's past.

The historians have been tasked with telling the story of the German diplomatic service under the Nazis and the later skirting of that topic after former diplomats were re-engaged when the service was re-established in 1951.

DPA

Subject: German news

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