Ex-Nazi members lead lectures around Germany giving 'eyewitness' accounts

The lecturers compare "the military struggle of the past in a context with the political struggle of right-wing extremists in the present."

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July 7, 2019 20:16
2 minute read.
1936 Berlin Olympics

The Nazi regime organized the mass displays of Nazi propaganda and nationalist symbols across Germany during the 1936 Berlin Summer Olympics events. (photo credit: FOTO:FORTEPAN / LŐRINCZE JUDIT VIA CC BY-SA 3.0)

 
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Right-wing extremists have organized nearly 60 lectures in Germany since 2018, relaying to German audiences their experiences with the Hitler Youth, the Waffen-SS or in Soviet captivity.

The news was broken by the German publication Focus Online, which obtained confidential documents compiled by the German Domestic Security Agency and the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV). The lectures were believed to be taking place only in the east German city of Chemnitz, known as a hub for right-wing extremism. Intelligence has shown, however, that these lecturers are traveling throughout the country, giving their "eyewitness" accounts.

"According to the report, such events have been gaining in importance for several years. They attracted several hundred visitors and served 'not only the ideological character of scene members,' but also the contact initiation of members of different right milieus," Focus Online wrote.

The BfV believes that these lecturers have become "an important starting point" for the right-wing extremist scene in Germany. The federal office has warned against the "ideology-forming function" of these lectures, saying that they serve as the "transfiguration of the Nazi past" and "the legitimization of the war actions [of these members], as a defensive struggle of the German people."

Additionally, it said that the lecturers compare "the military struggle of the past in a context with the political struggle of right-wing extremists in the present."

As of now, there are currently a dozen of these lecturers giving speeches around the country. "These include the 91-year-old Klaus Grotjahn from Bielefeld, once a member of the 11th SS Volunteer Division "Nordland", and the 92-year-old Richard Neubrech from Kaiserslautern, who talked about his experiences with the Hitler Youth and the 3rd SS Panzer Division "Totenkopf," the paper reported. "Another speaker is Herbert Bellschan von Mildenburg from Klagenfurt (Austria). Most recently, the 95-year-old spoke on March 31, 2019, in Dortmund about his war experiences in the Waffen-SS," Focus Online stated.

Some of these lecturers, including former Hitler Youth member Karl Münter, described some of his experiences – such as the murder of 86 French prisoners in France – as "legitimate."

In a telephone interview with The Jerusalem Post on Friday, Dr. Efraim Zuroff, chief Nazi-hunter for the Simon Wiesenthal Center, asked: "who is sponsoring and organizing the events?" and "are these people under investigation for talking about their deeds?"

Zuroff, who oversees the Jerusalem office of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said the The Central Office of the State Justice Administrations for the Investigation of National Socialist Crimes in Ludwigsburg, Germany, is responsible for the investigations. The office is Germany's agency responsible for investigating Nazi war crimes.

Benjamin Weinthal contributed to this report.


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